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VOLUME III 

FIGHTING FRANCE 



l 



A French palûade. 



TBZ WAR ON ALL FRONTS 



FIGHTING FRANCE 



FROM DUNEERQUE TO BELPOSl? 



BY 
EDITH 

QHavAunt or mm lbomn vr bomob 



ILLUSTRATED 



NEW YORK 
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1919 



W ^.?o;7i:^^3 




CovnuOHT, MIBL BT 
CnAPT-E-l SCRIBN&B'S SOHB 



CONTENTS 

Ths Look of Paau ••••.••• t ••• ^ • 1 

In âroonnb ••»•••••• 48 

In Lorrains and thb Vosoit •••••«•• 91 

In thb North ••••••••••i«»««. 187 

In Alsacb •••••••••••«••••• 181 

Thb Tonb of Fbancb •«»»•»»«•»«•>• 217 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

A French palisade « • Frontispiece 

WAcmo 

PAOB 

Sketch map of région aroiind the Forest of Argonne 54 

Ruîns of Geneial Lyautey's house in Crévic • . . 116 

A war grave 117 

A typical trench in the dunes 166 

The colony of saints on a soldier's grave at Nieuport 167 

The Cloth Market at Nîeuport 172 

A Street at Nieuport ••«•••••«« 17S 

A sand-bag trench in the north •••«••• 178 



THE LOOK OF PABI3 



THE LOOK OF PARIS 

(AVOCVr» 1014— FlBB(7ABT, lOltf) 



AUGUST 

/^ N the SOth of July, 1014, motoring nortli 
^^ from Poitiers, we had lunched some- 
where by the roadside under apple-trees on 
the edge of a field. Other fields stretched 
away on our right and left to a border of 
woodland and a village steeple. AU around 
was noonday quiet, and the sober disci- 
plined landscape which tbe traveller's mem- 
ory is apt to evoke as distinctively French* 
Sometimes, even to accustomed eyes, thèse 
nded-off fields and compact grey villages 
seem merely flat and tame; at other mo- 
ments the sensitive imagination sees in 
every thrîfty sod and even furrow the 
ceaseless vigilant attachment of généra- 
tions faithfid to the soil. The particular bit 

3 



4 HGHTING FRANCE 

of landscape bef ore us spoke in ail its Unes 
of that attachment. The air seemed fnll 
of thé long inurmur of human effort, the 
rhythm of oft-repeated tasks; the serenity 
of the scène smiled away the war rumours 
which had hung on us since momîng. 

AU day the sky had been banked with 
thunder-clouds, but by the tîme we reached 
Chartres, toward four o'cloek, they had 
roUed away under the horizon, and the 
town was so saturated with sunUght that 
to pass into the cathedral was Uke entering 
the dense obscurity of a church in Spain. 
At first aU détail was imperceptible: we 
were in a hoUow night. Then, as the shad- 
ows graduaUy thinned and gathered them- 
selves up into pier and vault and ribbing, 
there biu^t out of them great sheets and 
showers of colour. Framed by such depths 
of darkness, and steeped in a blaze of mid- 
summer sun, the familiar Windows seemed 
singularly remote and yet overpoweringly 
vivid. Now they widened into dark-shored 




THE LOOK OF PABIS 5 

pools splashed with siinset, now glittered 
and menaced like the shields of fighting 
angels. Some were cataracts of sapphires» 
others roses dropped from a saint's tunic» 
others great carven platters strewn with 
heavenly regalia, others the sails of galleons 
bound for thé Purple Islands; and in thé 
western wall the scattered fires of the rose- 
wîndow hung like a constellation in an 
Âfrican night. When one dropped one's 
eyes from thèse ethereal harmonies, the 
dark masses of masonry below them» ail 
veiled and mu£Bed in a mist pricked by a 
few altar lights, seemed to. symbolize the 
life on earth, with its shadows» its heavy 
distances and its little islands of illusion. 
AU that a great cathedral can be, ail the 
meanings it can express, ail the tranquilliz- 
ing power it can breathe upon the soûl, ail 
the rîchness of détail it can fuse into a large 
utterance of strength and beauty, the ca- 
thedral of Chartres gave us in that per- 
f ect hour. 



6 PIGHTING FRANCE 

It was sunset when we reached the gaies 
of Paris. Under the heights of St. Cloud 
and Suresnes the reaches of the Seine 
trembled with the blue-pink lustre of an 
early Monet. The Bois lay about us in the 
stiUness of a holiday evening, and the lawns 
of Bagatelle were as fresh as June. Below 
the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysées 
sloped downward in a sun-powdered haze 
to the mist of f ountains and the ethereal 
obelisk; and the currents of simmier life 
ebbed and flowed with a normal beat under 
the trees of the ràdiating avenues. The 
great city, so made for peace and art and 
ail humanest grâces, seemed to lie by her 
river-side like a prîncess guarded by the 
watchf ul giant of the Eiffel Tower. 

The next day the air was thundery with 
rumours. Nobody beUeved them, every- 
body repeated them. War ? Of course theré 
couldn't be war ! The Cabinets, like naugh- 
ty children, were again dangling their feet 
over the edge; but the whole incalcula- 



r 



THE LOOK OP PAMS 7 

ble weîght of things-as-they-were» of the 
daily necessary business of living, contin- 
ued calmly and convincingly to assert itself 
against the bandying of diplomatie words. 
Paris went on steadily about her mîd- 
siunmer business of feeding, dressing, and 
amusing the great army of tourists who 
were tbe only invaders she had seen for 
nearly half a century. 

AU tbe while, every one knew that other 
work was going on also. The whole fabrie 
of the country's seemingly undisturbed 
routine was threaded with noiseless invis- 
ible eurrents of préparation, the sensé of 
them was in the calm air as the sensé of 
changing weather is in the bahniness of a 
perfect aftemoon. Paris counted the min- 
utes till the evening papers came. 

They said little or nothing except what 
every one was already declaring ail over 

the country. "We don't want war — mais 

* 

il faut que celafinisser^ "This kind of thing 
has got to stop": that was the only phrase 



8 FIGHTING FRANCE 

one heard. If dîplomacy could still arrest 
the war, so much the better: no one in 
France wanted it. AU who spent the first 
days of August in Paris will testify to the 
agreement of feeling on that point. But 
if war had to corne, then the country, and 
every heart in ît, was ready. 

At the dKssmaker's, the next moming, 
the tired fitters were preparing to leave 
for their usual holiday. They looked pale 
and anxious — decidedly, there was a new 
weight of appréhension in the air. And in 
the rue Royale, at the corner of the Place 
de la Concorde, afew people had stopped 
to look at a little âtrip of white paper against 
the wall of the Ministère de la Marine. 
"General mobilization" they read — and 
an armed nation knows what that means. 
But the group about the paper was small 
and quiet. Passers by read the notice and 
went on. There were no cheers, no gesticula- 
tions: the dramaticr sensé of the race had 
already told them that the event was too 



THE LOOK OF PARIS 9 

great to be dramatized. Like a monstrous 
landslide it had fallen across thé path of 
an orderly laborious nation, disrupting its 
routine, annihilating its industries, rending 
famiUes apart, and burying under a heap 
of senseless ruin tbe patiently and painf uUy 
wrought machinery of civilization. . . 

That evening, in a restaurant of the rue 
Royale, we sat at a table in one of tbe 
open Windows, abreast with the street, and 
saw the strange new crowds stream by. In 
an instant we were being shown what mo- 
bilization was — a huge break in the normal 
flow of traffic, like the sudden rupture of a 
dyke. The street was flooded by the tor- 
rent of people sweeping past us to the vari- 
ons railway stations. Ail were on foot, and 
carrying their luggage; for since dawn 
every cab and taxi and motor^mnibus 
had disappeared. The War Office had 
thrown ont its drag-net and caught them 
ail in. The crowd that passed our window 
was chiefly composed of conscripts, the 



10 ÎIGHTING FRANCE 

mobilisables of the first day, who were on 
the way to the station accompanîed by 
their families and friends; but among them 
were lîttle elusters of bewîldered tourîsts, 
labourîng along with bags and bundles, and 
watchîng tbeir luggage pushed before them 
on hand-carts — puzzled înartîculate waîf s 
caught in tbe cross-tides racing to a mael* 
strom. 

In the restaurant, the bef rogged and red- 
coated band poured out patriotic musie, 
and the intervais between the courses that 
so few waîters were left to serve were 
broken by the ever-recurring obligation to 
stand up for the Marseillaise, to stand up 
for God Save the King, to stand up for the 
Russian National Anthem, to stand up 
again for the Marseillaise. *^Et dire que ce 
sont des Hongrois qui jouant tout cela /"a 
humourist remarked from the pavement. 

As the evening wore on and the crowd 
about our window thickened, the loiterers 
outside began to join in the war-songs. 



THE LOOK OF PARIS 11 

^^AUons, debout r* — and the loyal round 
begins again. '*La chanson du départ!" is 
a fréquent demand; and thé chorus of 
spectators dûmes in roundly. A sort of 
quiet hiunour was the note of the street. 
Down the rue Royale, toward the Made* 
leine, the bands of other restaurants were 
attracting other throngs» and martial re- 
frains were strung along the Boidevard like 
its garlands of arc-lights. It was a night of 
singing and acclamations, not boisterous, 
but gallant and determined. It was Paris 
badauderie at its best. 

Meanwhile, beyond the fringe of idlers 
the steady stream of conscripts still poured 
along. Wives and familles trudged beside 
them, carrying ail kinds of odd improvised 
bags and bundles. The impression disen- 
gaging itself from ail this superficial con- 
fusion was that of a cheerf ul steadiness of 
spirit. The faces ceaselessly streaming by 
were serions but not sad; nor was there 
any air of bewilderment — the stare of 



U FIGHTING FRANCE 

drîven cattle. Ail thèse lads and young 
men seemed to know what they were about 
and why they were about ît, The youngest 
of them looked suddenly grown up and 
responsible: they understood thcir stake in 
thé job, and accepted ît. 

The next day the army of midsummer 
travel was immobîUzed to let the other 
army' move. No more wîld rushes to the 
station, no more bribing of concierges, vain 
quests for invisible cabs, haggard hours of 
waiting in the queue at Cook's. No train 
stirred except to carry soldiers, and the 
civilians who had not bribed and jammed 
their way into a cranny of the thronged 
carnages leaving the first night could only 
creep back through the hot streets to their 
hôtels and wait- Back they went, disap* 
pointed yet half-reUeved, to the resound- 
ing emptiness of porterless halls, waiterless 
restaurants, motionless lifts: to the queer 
disjointed life of fashionable hôtels sud- 
denly reduced to the intimacies and make- 



THE LOOK OF PABIS IS 

shift of a Latin Quarter pension. Mean- 
while it was strange to watch thé graduai 
paralysis of thé city. As thé motors, taxis, 
cabs and vans had vanished from the 
streets, so the lively little steamers had left 
the Seine. The canal-boats too were gone» 
or lay motionless: loading and unloading 
had ceased. Every great architectural open- 
ing framed an emptiness; ail the endless 
avenues stretched away to désert distances. 
In the parks and gardens no one raked the 
paths or trimmed the borders. The foun- 
tains slept in their basins, the worried 
sparrows fluttered unfed, and vague dogs, 
shaken out of their daily habits, roamed 
unquietly, looking for familiar eyes. Paris» 
so intensely conscious yet so strangely en- 
tranced, seemed to hâve had curare in- 
jected into ail her veins. 

The next day — the 2nd of August — 
from the terrace of the Hôtel de Grillon 
one looked down on a first f aint stir of re- 
timiing life. Now and then a taad-cab or 



14 PIGHTING FRANCE 

a private motor crossed thé Place de la 
Concorde, canyîng soldîers to the stations* 
Other conscrîpts, in detachments, tramped 
by on foot with bags and banners. One de- 
tachment stopped before the black-veiled 
statue of Strasbourg and laid a garland at 
her feet. In ordinary times this démon- 
stration wQuld at once hâve attracted a 
crowd; but at the very moment when it 
might hâve been expected to provoke a 
patriotic outburst it excited no more at- 
tention than if one of the soldiers had 
tumed aside to give a penny to a beggar. 
The people crossing the square did not 
even stop to look. The meaning of this ap- 
parent indifférence was obvions. When an 
armed nation mobilizes, everybody is busy, 
and busy in a definite and pressing way. 
It is not only the fighters that mobilize: 
those who stay behind must do the same. 
For each French household, for each in- 
dividual man or woman in France, war 
means a complète reorganization of life. 



THE LOOK OF PARIS 1< 

The detachment of conscripts, unnoticed, 
paid their tribute to the Cause and passed 
on. • • 

Looked back on from thèse stemer 
months those early days in Paris, in their 
setting of grave architecture and summer 
skies, wear the light of the idéal and the 
abstract. The sudden âaming up of na- 
tional life, the abeyance of every small 
and mean préoccupation, cleared the moral 
air as the streets had been cleared, and 
made the spectator feel as though he were 
reading a great poem on War rather than 
facing its realities. 

Something of this sensé of exaltation 

» 

seemed to penetrate the throngs who 
streamed up and down the Boulevards tîll 
late into the night. Ail wheeled traffic had 
ceased, except that of the rare taxi-cabs 
impressed to carry conscripts to the sta- 
tions; and the middle of the Boulevards 
was as thronged with f oot-passengers as an 



16 MGHTING FRANCE 

Italian market-place on a Sunday mom> 

i 

ing. The vast tide swayed up and down 
at a slow pace, breaking now and then 
to make room. for one of the volunteer 
"légions" whîch were forming at every cor* 
ner: Italian, Roumanian, South Ameri- 
can, North American, each headed by its 
national flag and hailed with cheering as 
ît passed. But even the cheers were sober: 
Paris was not to be shaken out of her self- 
imposed serenity. One felt something no- 
bly conscious and voluntary in the mood 
of this quiet multitude. Yet it was a 
mixed throng, made up of every class, f rom 
the scum of the Exterior Boulevards to 
the cream of the fashionable restaurants. 
Thèse people, only two days ago, had been 
leading a thousand différent lives, in in- 
différence or in antagonism to each other, 
as alien as enemies across a f routier: now 
workers and idlers, thieves, beggars, saints, 
poets, drabs and sharpers, genuine people 
and showy shams, were ail bumping up 



THE LOOK OF PÂBIS 17 

against each other in an instinctive com- 
munity of émotion. The "people," luckily, 
predominated; the faces of workers look 
best in such a crowd, and there were thou- 
sands of them, each illuminated and singled 
ont by its magnesium-flash of passion. 

I remember especially the steady-browed 
faces of the women; and also the small but 
significant f act that every one of them had 
remembered to bring her dog. The biggest 
of thèse amiable companions had to take 
their chance of seeing what they could 
through the forest of himian legs; but 
every one that was portable was snugly 
lodged in the bend of an elbow, and from 
this safe perch scores and scores of small 
serions muzzles, blunt or sharp, smooth or 
woolly, brown or grey or white or black 
or brindled, looked ont on the scène with 
the quiet awareness of the Paris dog. It 
was certainly a good sign that they had not 
been forgotten that night. 



18 HGHTING FRANCE 



II 

We had been shown, împressîvely, what 
it was to live through a mobilization; now 
we were to leam that mobilization is only 
one of the concomitants of martial law, 
and that martial law is not comfortable to 
live under — at least till one gets used 
to it. 

At first its main pnrpose, to the neutral 
civilian, seemed certainly to be the way- 
ward pleasure of complicating his life; and 
in that Une it excelled in the last refine- 
ments of ingenuity. Instructions began to 
shower on us af ter the lull of the first day s : 
instructions as to what to do, and what 
not to do, in order to make our présence 
tolerable and our persons secure. In the 
first place, foreigners could not remain in 
France without satisfying the authorities 
as to their nationality and antécédents; 
and to do this necessitated repeated inef- 
fective visits to chanceries* consulates and 



THE LOOK OF PÂBIS 19 

police stations, each too densely tlironged 
with flustered applicants to permit the en- 
trance of one more. Between thèse vain pil- 
grimages, the traveller impatient to leave 
had to toil on foot to distant railway sta- 
tions, from which he retumed baffled by 
vague answers and disheartened by the 
déclaration that tickets, when achievable, 
must also be visés by the police. There was 
a moment when it seemed that one's inmost 
thoughts had to hâve that unobtainable 
ma — to obtain which, more f ruitless hours 
must be Uved on grimy stairways between 
perspiring layers of fellow-aliens. Mean- 
while one's money was probably running 
short, and one must cable or telegraph for 
more. Ah — but cables and telegrams must 
be frisés too — and even when they were, one 
got no guarantee that they would be sent ! 
Then one could not use code addresses, 
and the ridiculous number of words con- 
tained in a New York address seemed to 
multiply as the francs in one's pock- 



«0 MGHTING FRANCE 

ets diminished. And when the cable was 
finally despatched it was either lost on the 
way, or reached îts destination only to 
call forth, after anxious days, the disheart- 
ening response: "Impossible at présent. 
Making every effort." It is faîr to add 
thât, tedious and even irritating as many 
of thèse transactions were, they were 
greatly eased by the sudden uniform good- 
nature of the French functionary, who, 
for the first time, probably, in the long 
tradition of his Une, broke through its 
fondamental rule and was kind. 

Luckily, too, thèse incessant comîngs 
and goings involved much walking of the 
beautiful idle sunmier streets, which grew 
idler and more beautiful each day. Never 
had such blue-grey softness of aftemoon 
brooded over Paris, such sunsets tumed 
the heights of the Trocadéro into Dido's 
Carthage, never, above ail, so rich a moon 
ripened through such perfect evenings. 
The Seine itself had no small share in this 



THE LOOK OF PARIS 21 

mysterious increase of the city's beauty. 
Released from ail traffic, its hurried rip- 
pies smoothed themselves into long silken 
reaches in whîch quays and monuments at 
last saw their unbroken images. At night 
the fire-fly li^ts of the boats had van- 
ished, and the reflections of the street 
lamps were lengthened into streamers of 
red and gold and purple that slept on the 
calm current like fluted water-weeds. Then 
the moon rose and took possession of the 
city, purifjring it of ail accidents, calming 
and enlarging it and giving it back its 
idéal Unes of strength and repose. There 
was something strangely moving in this 
new Paris of the August evenings, so ex- 
posed yet so serene, as though her very 
beatity shielded her. 

So, gradually, we fell into the habit of 
living under martial law. After the first 
days of flustered adjustment the personal 
ineonveniences were so few that one felt 



22 FIGHTING FRANCE 

almost ashamed of their not being more, 
of not being called on to contribute some 
greater sacrifice of comfort to the Cause. 
Withîn the first week over two thirds of 
the shops had closed — the greater num- 
ber bearing on their shuttered Windows 
the notice *'Pour cause de mobilisation," 
which showed that the "patron" and staff 
were at the front. But enough remained 
open to satisfy every ordinary want, and 
the closing of the others served to prove 
how much one could do without. Provi- 
sions were as cheap and plentiful as ever, 
though for a while it was easier ±o buy 
food than to hâve it cooked. The restau- 
rants were closing rapidly, and one often 
had to wander a long way for a meal, and 
wait a longer time to get it. A few hôtels 
still carried on a halting life, galvanized 
by an occasional inrush of travel from 
Belgium and Germany; but most of them 
had closed or were being hastily trans- 
formed into hospitals. 



THE LOOK OF PARIS tS 

The signs over thèse hôtel doors first 
disturbed the dreaming harmony of Paris. 
In a night, as it seemed, the whole city 
was hung with Red Crosses. Every other 
building showed the red and white band 
across its front, with "Ouvroir" or "Hô- 
pital" beneath; there was something sin- 
ister in thèse préparations for horrors in 
which one could not yet believe, in the 
making of bandages for limbs yet sound 
and whole, the spreading of pillows for 
heads yet carried high. But insist as they 
would on the woe to corne, thèse waming 
signs did not deeply stir the trance of 
Paris. The first days of the war were fuU 
of a kind of unrealizing confidence, not 
boastful or fatuous, yet as différent as 
possible from the clear-headed tenacity of 
purpose that the expérience of the next 
few months was to develop. It is hard to 
evoke, without seeming to exaggerate it, 
that mood of early August: the assurance, 
the balance, the kind of smiling fatalism 



24 FIGHTING FRANCE 

wîth which Paris moved to her task. It îs 
not impossible that the beauty of the sea- 
son and the silence of the city may hâve 
helped to produce this mood. War, the 
shrieking f ury , had announced herself by 
a great wave of stillness. Never was désert 
hush more complète: the silence of a street 
is always so much deeper than the silence 
of wood or field. 

The heaviness of the August air intensi- 
fied this impression of suspended life. The 
days were dumb enough; but at night 
the hush became acute. In the quarter I 
inhabit, always deserted in smnmer, the 
shuttered streets were mute as catacombs, 
and the faintest pin-prick of noise seemed 
to tear a rent in a black pall of silence. I 
could hear the tired tap of a lame hoof 
half a mile away, and the tread of the 
policeman guarding the Enibassy across 
the street beat against the pavement hke 
a séries of détonations. Even the varie- 
gated noises of the city's waking-up had 



THE LOOK OF PARIS «5 

ceased. If any sweepers, scavengers or 
rag-pickers still plied their trades they did 
it as secretly as ghosts. I remember one 
moming being roused out of a deep sieep 
by a sudden explosion of noise in iny 
room. I sat up with a start, and found I 
had been waked by a low-voiced exchange 
of "Bonjours" in the street. . . 

Another fact that kept the reality of 
war from Paris was the curions absence of 
troops in the streets. After the first rush 
of conscripts hurrying to their mihtary 
bases it might hâve been imagined that 
the reign of peace had set in. While smaller 
cities were swarming with soldiers no glit- 
ter of arms was reflected in the empty 
avenues of the capital, no military music 
sounded through them. Paris scomed ail 
show of war, and fed the patriotism of 
her chiidren on the mère sight of her beauty. 
It was enough. 

Even when the news of the first ephem- 
eral successes in Alsace began to corne in. 



26 TIGHTING FRANCE 

the Parisians did not swerve from their 
even gait. The newsboys did ail the shout- 
îng — and even theirs was presently si- 
lenœd by decree. It seemed as though ît 
had been unanîmously, instmctîvely de- 
cîded that the Paris of 1914 should in no 
respect resemble the Paris of 1870, and as 
though this resolution had passed at birth 
into the blood of millions bom sinee that 
fatal date, and ignorant of its bitter les- 
son. The imanimity of self-restraint was 
the notable characteristic of this people 
suddenly plunged into an imsought and 
imezpected war. At first their steadiness 
of spirit might hâve passed for the bewil- 
derment of a« génération bom and bred in 
peace, which did not yet imderstand what 
war implied. But it is precisely on such a 
mood that easy triumphs might hâve been 
supposed to hâve the most disturbing ef- 
fect. It was the crowd in the street that 
shouted "A Berlin!" in 1870; now the 
crowd in the street continued to mind its 



THE LOOK OF PARIS «7 

own business, in spite of showers of eztras 
and too-sanguine bulletins. 

I remember the moming when our 
butcher's boy brought the news that the 
first German flag had been hung out on 
the balcony of the Ministry of War. Now, 
I thought, the Latin will boil over ! And I 
wanted to be there to see. I hurried down 
the quiet rue de Martignac, tumed the 
corner of the Place Sainte Clotilde, and 
came on an orderly crowd filling the street 
before the Ministry of War. The crowd 
was so orderly that the few pacifie ges- 
tures of the police easily cleared a way 
for passing cabs, and for the miUtary mo- 
tors peri)etually dashing up. It was com- 
posed of ail classes, and there were many 
family groups, with little boys straddling 
their mothers' shoulders, or lifted up by 
the policemen when they were too heavy 
for their mothers. It is safe to say that 
there was hardly a man or woman of that 
crowd who had not a soldier at the front, 



28 FIGHTING FRANCE 

and there before them hung the enemy's 
first flag — a splendid silk flag, white and 
black and crimson, and embroîdered in 
gold. It was the flag of an Alsatian régi- 
ment — a régiment of Prussîanized Alsace. 
It symbolized ail they most abhorred in 
the whole abhorrent job that lay ahead of 
them; it symboKzed also their,finest ar- 
dour and their noblest hâte, and the rea- 
son why, if every other reason failed, 
France could never lay down arms till the 
last of such flags was low. And there they 
stood and looked at it, not dully or un- 
comprehendingly, but consciously, advis- 
edly , and in silence : as if already f oreseeing 
ail it would cost to keep that flag and add 
to it others like it: f oreseeing the cost and 
accepting it. There seemed to be men^s 
hearts even in the children of that crowd, 
and in the mothers whose weak arms held 
them up. So they gazed and went on, and 
made way for others like them, who gazed 
in their tum and went on too. Ail day the 



THE LOOK OF PARIS 29 

crowd renewed itself , and it was always 
the same crowd» intent and understanding 
and silent, who looked steadily ai the flag, 
and knew what îts being there meant. 
That, in August, was the look of Paris. 

III 

FEBRUART 

February dusk on the Seine. The boats 
are plying again, but they stop at night- 
faU, and the river is inky-smooth, with the 
same long weed-like refleetions as in Au- 
gust. Only the refleetions are fewer and 
paler: bright lights are muffled everywhere. 
The Une of the quays is scarcely discemi- 
ble, and the heights of the Trocadéro are 
lost in the blur of night, which presently 
effaces even the firm tower-tops of Notre- 
Dame. Down the damp pavements only a 
few Street lamps throw their watery zig- 
zags. The shops are shut, and the Windows 
above them thickly cnrtained. The faces 
of the houses are ail blind. 



SO FIGHTING FRANCE 

In the narrow streets of the Rive Gauche 
the darkness îs even deeper, and the few 
seattered lîghts in courts or "cités" cre- 
ate effects of Piranesi-like mystery. The 
gleam of the chestnut-roaster's brazier àt 
a Street corner deepens the sensé of an old 
adventurous Italy, and the darkness be- 
yond seems full of cloaks and conspîracies. 
I tum, on my way home, into an empty 
Street between high garden walls, with a 
single light showing far off at its farther 
end. Not a soûl is in sight between me 
and that light: my steps écho endlessly in 
the silence. Presently a dim figure comes 
around the corner ahead of me. Man or 
woman? Impossible to tell till I overtake 
it. The February fog deepens the darkness, 
and the faces one passes are indistinguish- 
able. As for the numbers of the houses, no 
one thinks of looking for them. If you 
know the quarter you count doors from 
the corner, or try to puzzle out the familiar 
outline of a balcony or a pediment; if you 



THE LOOK OF PARIS 81 

are in a strange street, you must ask ai the 
nearest tobacconist's — for, as for finding 
a policeman, a yard off you couldn't tell 
him f rom your grandmother ! 

Siieli, after six months of war, are the 
nights of Paris; the days are less remark- 
able and less romantic. 

Ahnost ail the early flush and shiver of 
romance is goné; or so at least it seems ta 
those who hâve watched the graduai re- 
vival of life. It may appear othenvîse to 
observers from other countries, even from 
those involved in the war. After London» 
with ail her théâtres open, and her ma- 
chinery of amusement almost unimpaired» 
Paris no doubt seems like a city on whom 
great issues weigh. But to those who lived 
through that first sunlit silent month the 
streets to-day show an almost normal ac- 
tivity. The vanishing of ail the motor- 
buses, and of the huge lumbering com- 
mercial vans, leaves many a forgotten 
perspective open and reveals many a lost 



32 FIGHTING FRANCE 

grâce of architecture; but the taxî-cabk 
and prîvate inotors are almost as abun- 

dant as in peace-time, and the péril of 

» 

pedestrianism is kept at its normal pitch 
by the incessant dashing to and fro of 
those unrivalled engines of destruction, 
the hospital and *War Office motors. Many 
shops hâve reopened, a few théâtres are 
tentatively producing patriotic drama or 
mixed programmes seasoned with senti- 
ment and mirth, and the cinéma again un- 
rolls its eventful kilomètres. 

For a while, in September and October, 
the streets were made picturesque by the 
coming and going of Enghsh soldiery, and 
the aggressive flourish of British military 
motors. Then the fresh faces and smart 
uniforms disappeared, and now the near- 
est approach to "militarism" which Paris 
offers to the casual sight-seer is the occa- 
sional drilling of a handful of . piou-pioiLS 
on the muddy reaches of the Place des 
Invalides. But there is another army in 



THE LOOK OP PARIS 8S 

Paris. Its first detachments came months 
ago, in the dark September days — lamen- 
table rear-guard of the Allies' retreat on 
Paris. Sînee then îts numbers bave grown 
and grown, its dingy streams bave per- 
colated tbrougb ail the cnrrents of Paris 
life, so that wherever one goes, in every 
quarter and at every hour, among the 
busy confident strongly-stepping Parisians 
one sees thèse other people, dazed and slowly 
moving — men and women with sordid 
bundles on their backs, shuffling along 
hesitatingly in their tattered sboes, chil- 
dren dragging at their bands and tired- 
out babies pressed against their shoulders: 
the great army of the Refugees. Their faces 
are mimistakable and miforgettable. No one 
who bas ever caught that stare of dumb 
bewilderment — or that other look of con- 
centrated borror, full of the reflection of 
fiâmes and ruins — can shake off the ob- 
session of the Refugees. The look in their 
eyes is part of the look of Paris. It is the 



84 ïlGHTING FRANCE 

dark shadow on the brightness of the face 
she tums to the enemy. Thèse poor peo- 
ple eannot look across the borders to even- 
\ual triumph. They belong mostly to a 
class whose knowledge of the world's af- 
faire îs measured by the shadow of theîr 
village steeple, They are no more curious 
of the laws of causation than the thou- 
sands overwhelmed at Avezzano. They 
were ploughing and sowîng, spinning and 
weaving and minding their busmess, when 
suddenly a great darkness full of fire and 
blood came down on them. And now they 
are hère, in a strange eountry, among un- 
familiar faces and new ways, with nothing 
left to them in the world but the memory 
of buming homes and massacred children 
and young men dragged to slavery, of 
infants tom from their mothers, old men 
trampled by dmnken heels and priests 
slain while they prayed beside the dyîng. 
Thèse are the people who stand in hmidreds 
every day outside the doors of the shelters 



THE LOOK OF PARIS 85 

improvised to rescue them, and who re- 
ceive» in retum for the loss of everything 
that makes lîfe sweet» or intelligible, or at 
least endurable, a cot in a donnitory, a 
nfeal-tieket — and perhaps, on lucky days, 
a pair of shoes. • • 

What are Parisians doing meanwhile? 
For one thing — and the sign is a good one 
— they are refilling the shops, and es- 
pecially, of course, the great ^'department 
itores." In the early war days there was 
no stranger sight than those deserted pal- 
aces, where one strayed between miles of 
unpurchased wares in quest of vanished 
salesmen. A few clerks, of course, were 
left: enough, one would hâve thought, for 
the rare purchasers who disturbed their 
méditations. But the few there were did 
not care to be disturbed: they lurked be- 
hind their walls of sheeting, their bastions 
of flannelette, as if ashamed to be discov- 
ered. And when one had coaxed them out 
they went through the necessaiy gestures 



S6 FIGHTING FRANCE 

automatîcally, as if moumfully wonder- 
ing that any one should care to buy. I 
remember once, at the Louvre, seeîng the 
whole force of a "department," încluding 
the salesman I was tryîng to cajole into 
showing me some medicated gauze, désert 
theîr posts sîmultaneously to gather about 
a motor-cyclist in a inuddy unif orm who 
had dropped in to see his pals with taies 
from the front. But after six months the 
pressure of normal appetites has begun to 
reassert itself — and to shop is one of the 
normal appetites of woman. I say "shop" 
instead of buy, to distinguish between the 
duU purchase of necessities and the volup- 
tuousness of acquiring things one might 
do without. It is évident that many of the 
thousands now fighting their way into the 
great shops must be indulging in the latter 
delight. At a moment when real wants 
are reduced to a minimum, how else ac- 
count for the congestion of the department 
store? Even allowing for the inmiense, the 



THE LOOK OP PARIS S7 

perpétuai buying of supplies for hospitals 
and work-rooms, the incessant stoking-up 
of the innumerable centres of charitable 
production, there is no explanation of the 
crowding of the other departments except 
the fact that woman, however valiant, 
however tried, however suffering and how- 
ever self-denying, must eventually, in the 
long run, and at whatever cost to her 
pocket and her ideals, begin to shop again. 
She has renounced the théâtre, she dénies 
herself the tea-rooms, she goes apologetic- 
ally and furtively (and economically) to 
concerts — but the swinging doors of the 
department stores suck her irresîstibly into 
their quicksand of remuants and réductions. 
No one, in this respect, would wish the 
look of Paris to be changed. It is a good 
sign to see the crowds pouring into the 
shops again, even though the sight is less 
interesting than that of the other crowds 
streaming daily — and on Sundays in im- 
mensely augmented numbers — across the 



38 FIGHTING FRANCE 

Pont Alexandre HE to the great court ol 
the Invalides where the German trophies 
are dîsplayed. Hère the heart of France 
beats wîth a rîcher blood, and somethîng 
of îts glow passes into foreîgn veîns as one 
watches the perpetually renewed throngs 
face to face with the long triple row of 
German guns. There are few in those 
throngs to whom one of the deadly pack 
has not dealt a blow; there are personal 
losses, lacerating memories, bound up with 
the sight of ail those evil engines. But 
Personal sorrow îs the sentiment least 
visible in the look of Paris. It is not fanci- 
ful to say that the Parisian face, after six 
months of trial, has acquired a new char- 
acter. The change seems to hâve affected 
the very stuff it is moulded of , as though 
the long ordeal had hardened the poor 
human clay into some dense commémora- 
tive substance. I often pass in the street 
women whose faces look like mémorial 
medals — idealized images of what they 



THE LOOK OF PARIS 89 

were in the flesh. , Ând the masks of some 
of the men — those queer tormented Gal- 
lic masks, crushed-in and squat and a 
little satyr-lîke — look like the bronzes of 
the Naples Muséum, bumt and twisted 
from their baptism of fire. But none of 
thèse faces reveals a personal préoccupa- 
tion: they are looking, one and ail, at 
France erect on her borders. Even the 
women who are comparing différent widths 

* 

of Valenciennes at the lace-counter ail hâve 
something of that vision in theu- eyes — 
or else one does not see the ones who 
haven't. 

It is still true of Paris that she has not 
the air of a capital in arms. There are as 
few troops to be seen as ever, and but for 
the coming and going of the orderlies at- 
tached to the War OflSce and the Military 
Government, and the sprinkling of uni- 
forms about the doors of barracks, there 
would be no sign of war in the streets — 
no sign, that is, except the présence of the 



40 ÏIGHTING FRANCE 

woiinded. It is only lately that they hâve 
begun to appear, for în the early months 
of the war they were not sent to Paris, 
and the splendidly appointed hospitals of 
the capital stood ahnost empty, while 
others, ail over the country, were over- 
crowded. The motives for this disposai of 
the wounded hâve been much speeulated 
upon and variously explaîned: one of its 
results may hâve been the maintaining 
in Paris of the extraordinary moral health 
which has given its tone to the whole 
comitry, and which is now somid and 
strong enough to face the sight of any 
misery. 

And miseries enough ît has to face. Day 
by day the limping figures grow more 
numerous on the pavement, the pale band- 
aged heads more fréquent in passing car- 
riages. In the stalls at the théâtres and 
concerts there are many uniforms; and 
their wearers usually hâve to wait till the 
hall is emptied before they hobble out on 



THE LOOK OF PARIS 41 

a supporting arm. Most of them are very 
young, and it is the expression of their 
faces whîeh I should like to pieture and 
interpret as beîng the very essence of what 
I hâve called the look of Paris. They are 
grave, thèse young faces: one hears a 
great deal of the gaiefty in the trenches, 
but the wounded are not gay. Neîther are 
they sad, however. They are cahn, médi- 
tative, strangely purified and matured. It 
is as though their great expérience had 
purged them of pettiness, meanness and fri- 
volity, buming them down to the bare 
bones of character, the fimdamental sub- 
stance of the soûl, and shaping that sub- 
stance into something so strong and finely 
tempered that for a long time to come 
Paris will not care to wear any look un- 
worthy of the look on their faces. 



IN ÂB60NNB 



IN AR60NNE 



'TpHE permission to visit a tew ambu- 
*^ lances and évacuation hospitals be- 
liind thé Unes gave me, at the end of 
Febniary, my first sight of War. 

Paris is no longer included in the mili- 
tary zone, either in fact or in appearance. 
Though it is still manifestly imder the 
war-cloud, its air of reviving activity pro- 
duces the illusion that the menace which 
casts that cloud is far off not only in dis- 
tance but in time. Paris, a few months ago 
so alive to the neamess of the enemy, 
seems to hâve grown completely oblivious 
of that neamess; and it is startling, not 
more than twenty miles from the gâtes, 
to pass from such an atmosphère of work- 
aday security to the imminent sensé of 
war. 

45 



46 PIGHTING FRANCE 

Going eastward» one begins to feel the 
change just beyond Meaux. Between that 
quiet epîscopal city and the hîll-town of 
Montmirail, some forty miles farther east, 
there are no sensational évidences of the 
great conflict of September — only, hère 
and there, in an unploughed fîeld, or among 
the fresh brown furrows, a little moiind 
with a wooden cross and a wreath on it. 
Nevertheless, one begins to perceive, by 
certain négative signs, that one is aheady 
in another world. On the cold February 
day when we tumed out of Meaux and 
took the road to the Argonne, the change 
was chiefly shown by the curious absence 
of life in the villages through which we 
passed. Now and then a lonely ploughman 
and his team stood out against the sky, or 
a child and an old woman looked from a 
doorway; but many of the fields were fal- 
low and most of the doorways empty. We 
passed a few carts driven by peasants, 
a stray wood-cutter in a copse, a road- 



IN ARGONNE 47 

mender hammerîng at hîs stones; but al- 
ready the "cîvilian motor" had disap- 
peared, and ail the dust-coloured cars dash- 
ing past us were marked with the Red 
Cross or the number of an army division. 
At every bridge and railway-crossing a 
sentinel standing in the middle of the 
road with lifted rifle, stopped the motor 
and examined our papers. In this négative 
sphère there was hardly any other tangible 
proof of military rule; but with the descent 
of the first hill beyond Montmirail there 
came the positive feeling: This is warl 

Along the white road rippling away east- 
ward over the dimpled country the army 
motors were pouring by in endless Unes, 
broken now and then by the dark mass of 
a trampmg régiment or the clatter of a 
train of artillery. In the intervais between 
thèse waves of miUtary traffic we had the 
road to ourselves, except for the flashing 
past of despatch-bearers on motor-cycles 
and of hideously hooting little motors 



48 HGHTING FRANCE 

carrying goggled officers in goat-skins and 
woollen helmets. 

The villages along the road ail seeined 
empty — not figuratively but literally 
empty. None of them has suffered from 
the German invasion, save by the destruc- 
tion, hère and there, of a smgle house on 
which some random maHce has wreaked 
itself ; but sinee the gênerai flight in Sep- 
tember ail hâve remained abandoned, or 
are provisionally oçcupied by troops, and 
the rich country between Montmirail and 
Châlons is a désert. 

The first sight of Châlons îs extraordi- 
narily exhilarating. The old town lying so 
pleasantly between canal and river is the 
Head-quarters of an army — not of a corps 
or of a division, but of a whole army — 
and the network of grey provincial streets 
about the Romanesque towers of Notre 
Dame rustles with the movement of war. 
The square before the principal hôtel — 
the incomparably named ''Haute Mère- 



m ARGONNE 49 

Dieu" — îs as vîvîd a sight as any scène 
of modem war can be. Rows of grey motor- 
lorries and omnibuses do not lend them- 
selves to as happy groupings as a de- 
tachment of cavahy» and spittîng and 
spurting motor-cycles and "torpédo" racers 
are no substitute for tbe glitter of helmets 
and the curvetting of chargers; but once 
the eye bas adapted itself to the ugly Unes 
and the neutral tînts of the new warfare» 
the scène în that crowded clattering square 
becomes posîtively brilliant. It is a vision 
of one of the central f unctions of a great 
war, in ail its concentrated energy, without 
the saddening suggestions of what, on the 
distant periphery, that energy is daily and 
hourly resulting in, Yet even hère such 
suggestions are never long out of sight; 
for one cannot pass through Châlons with- 
out meeting, on their way from the station, 
a long Une of "éclopés'' — the imwounded 
but battered, shattered, frost-bitten, deaf- 
ened and half-paralyzed wreckage of the 



50 FIGHTING FRANCE 

awful struggle. Thèse poor wretches, in 
their thousands, are daily shipped back 
from the front to rest and be restored; 
and it is a grîm sight to watch them limp- 
ing by, and to meet the dazed stare of 
eyes that hâve seen what one dare not 
pîcture. 

n one eould thmk away the "éelopés" 
in the streets and the wounded in the hos- 
pîtals, Châlons would be an invigorating 
spectacle. When we drove up to the hôtel 
even the grey motors and the sober unî- 
f orms seemed to sparkle under . the cold 
sky. The continuai coming and going of 
alert and busy messengers, the rîding up 
of officers (for some still ride !), the arrivai 
of much-decorated miUtaiy personages in 
luxurious motors, the hurrying to and fro 
of orderlies, the perpétuai depleting and 
refilling of the long rows of grey vans 
across the square, the movements of Red 
Cross ambulances and the passing of de- 
tachments for the front, ail thèse are sights 



m ARGONNE 51 

that the pacifie stranger could forever 
gape at. And in the hôtel, what a elatter 
of swords, what a piling up of fur eoats 
and haversaeks, what a grouping of bronzed 
energetie heads about the paeked tables 
in the restaurant! It is not easy for civil- 
îans to get to Châlons» and almost every 
table is occupied by offîcers and soldiers 
— for, once off duty, there seems to be no 
rank distinction in this happy démocratie 
army, and the simple private, if he chooses 
to treat himself to the excellent fare of 
the Haute Mère-Dieu, has as good a right 
to it as his colonel. 

The scène in the restaurant is inexhausti- 
bly interesting. The mère attempt to puz- 
zle out the différent uniforms is absorbing. 
A week*s expérience near the front con- 
vinces me that no two uniforms in the 
French army are alike either in coloiu* or 
in eut. Within the last two years the ques- 
tion of colour has greatly preoccupiefd the 
French military authorities, who hâve been 



52 FIGHTING FRANCE 

seeking an invisible blue; and the range 
of tlieir experiments is proved by the ex- 
traordinary variety of shades of blue, rang* 
ing from a sort of greyish robin's-egg to 
the darkest navy, in whîeh the army is 
elothed. The resuit attained is the con- 
viction that no blue is really inconspicu^ 
ous, and that some of the harsh new slaty 
tints are no less striking than the deeper 
shades they hâve superseded. But to this 
scale of expérimental blues, other colours 
must be added: the poppy-red of the 
Spahis' tunics, and varions other less famil- 
iar colours — grey, and a certain greenish 
khaki — the use of which is due to the 
fact that the cloth supply has given out 
and that ail available materials are em- 
ployedi As for the différences in eut, the 
unif orms vary from the old tight tunic to 
the loose belted jacket copied from the 
English, and the emblems of the varions 
arms and ranks embroidered on thèse 
diversified habits add a new élément of 



m ARGONNE 53 

perplexîty. The aviator's wîngs, the motor- 
istes wheel, and many of the newer sym- 
bols, are easily recognizable — but there 
are ail the other arms, and the doctors 
and the stretcher-bearers, the sappers and 
minera, and heaven knows how many more 
ramifications of this great host which is 
really ail the nation. 

The main mterest of the scène, however, 
is that it shows ahnost as many types as 
uniforms, and that almost ail the types 
are so good. Qne begins to imderstand (if 
one has failed to before) why the French 
say of themselves: "ia France est une 
nation guerrièrer War is the greatest of 
paradoxes: the most senseless and disheart- 
ening of human retrogressions, and yet 
the stimulant of qualities of soûl which, 
in every race, can seemingly find no other 
means of renewal. Everything dépends, 
therefore, on the category of impulses that 
war excites in a people. Looking at the 
faces at Châlons, one sees at once in which 



54 HGHTING FRANCE 

sensé the French are "une nation guer- 
rière." It îs not too much to say that war 
has gîven beauty to faces that were inter- 
esting, humorous, acute, malicîous, a hun- 
dred vîvid and expressive things, but last 
and least of ail beautiful. Almost ail the 
faces about thèse crowded tables — young 
or old, plein or handsome, distinguished or 
average — hâve the same look of quiet 
authority: it is as though ail "nervosity,'* 
fussiness, little personal oddities, mean- 
nesses and vulgarities, had been bumt 
away in a great flame of self-dedication. 
It is a wonderful example of the rapidity 
with which purpose models the human 
countenance. More than half of thèse men 
were probably doing dull or useless or un- 
important things till the first of last Au- 
gust; now each one of them, however small 
his job, is sharing in a great task, and 
knows it, and has been made over by 
knowing it. 
Our road on leaving Châlons continued 




I 



ê 

I 

I 

•s 



-8 
I 



56 FIGHTING FRANCE 

to run northeastward toward the hiUs of 
the Argonne. 

We passed through more deserted vil- 
lages, with soldiers loungîng in the doors 
where old women should hâve sat with 
their distaffs, soldiers watering their horses 
in the village pond, soldiers cooking over 
gypsy fires in the farm-yards. In the 
patches of woodland along the road we 
came upon more soldiers, cutting down 
pine saplings, chopping them into even 
lengths and loading them on hand-earts, 
with the green boughs piled on top, We 
soon saw to what use they were put, for 
at every cross-road or railway bridge a 
warm sentry-box of mud and straw and 
plaited pine-branches was plastered against 
a bank or tucked like a swallow's nest into 
a sheltered corner. A Uttle farther on we 
began to come more and more freqùently 
on big colonies of "Seventy-fives." Drawn 
up nose to nose, usually against a curtain 
of woodland, in a field at some distance 



m ARGONNE 57 

from the road» and always attended by a 
cmnbrous drove of inotor-vans, they looked 
like giant gazelles feeding among éléphants; 
and the stables of woven pîne-boughs 
which stood near by might hâve been 
the huge huts of their herdsmen. 

The country between Marne and Meuse 
is one of the régions on which German 
f ury spent itself most bestially dnring the 
abominable September days. Half way be- 
tween Châlons and Sainte Menehould we 
came on the first évidence of the invasion: 
the lamentable ruins of the village of Auve. 
Thèse pleasant villages of the Aisne, with 
their one long street, their half-timbered 
houses and high-roofed granaries with es* 
paliered gable-ends, are ail much of one 
pattem, and one can easily picture what 
Auve must hâve been as it looked out, 
in the blue September weather, above the 
ripening pears of its gardens to the crops 
in the valley and the large landscape be- 
yond, Now it is a mère waste of rubble 



58 FIGHTING FRANCE 

and cinders, not one tlireshold distinguish* 
able from another. We saw many other 
ruined villages af ter Auve, but tliis was the 
first, and perhaps for that reason one had 
there, most haimtîngly, the vision of ail 
the separate terrors, anguishes, uprootings 
and rendings apart involved in the destruc- 
tion of the obscurest of human communî* 
ties. The photographs on the walls, the 
twigs of withered box above the crucifixes^ 
the old wedding-dresses in brass-clamped 
trunks, the bundles of letters laboriously 
written and as painfully deciphered, aU 
the thousand and one bits of the past that 
give meaning and continuity to the prés- 
ent — of ail that aceumulated warmth 
nothing was left but a brick-heap and 
some twisted stove-pipes! 

As we ran on toward Sainte Menehould 
the names on our map showed us that^ 
just beyond the parallel range of hills six 
or seven miles to the north, the two armies 
lay interlocked. But we heard nd cannon 



IN ARGONNE 59 

yet, and the first visible évidence of the 
neamess of the struggle was the encoun- 
ter, at a bend of the road, of a long Une 
of grey-coated figures tramping toward 
us between the bayonets of their captors. 
They were a sturdy lot, this fresh "bag" 
from the hills, of a fine fighting âge, and 
much less f amished and war-wom than one 
could hâve wished, Their broad blond faces 
were meaningless, guarded, but neither dé- 
fiant nor unhappy: they seemed none too 
sorry for their fate. 

Our pass from the General Head-quar- 
ters camed us to Sainte Menehould on 
the edge of the Argonne, where we had to 
apply to the Head-quarters of the division 
for a farther extension. The Staff are 
lodged in a house considerably the worse 
for German occupancy, where offices hâve 
been improvised by means of wooden 
hoardings, and where, sitting in a bare 
passage on a frayed damask sofa sur- 
mounted by theatrical posters and faced 



60 HGHTING FRANCE 

by a bed wîth a plum-coloured counter- 
pane, we listened for a while to the jîngle 
of téléphones, the rat-tat of typewriters, 
the steady hum of dictation and the corn- 
îng and going of hiimed despatch-bearers 
and orderhes. The extension to the permit 
was presently dehvered with the conrteous 
îequest that we should push on to Verdmi 
as fast as possible, as civiUan motors were 
not wanted on the road that aftemoon; 
and thîs request, coupled with the évident 
stir of activity at Head-quarters, gave us 
the impression that there must be a good 
deal happening beyond the low Une of 
hills to the north. How much there was we 
were soon to know. 

We left Sainte Menehould at about 
eleven, and before twelve o'clock we were 
nearing a large village on a ridge from 
which the land swept away to right and 
left in ample reaches. The first glimpse of 
the outlyîng houses showed nothing un- 
usual; but presently the main street turned 



IN ARGONNE 61 

and dipped downward, and below and 
beyond us lay a long stretch of mins: the 
calcined remains of Clermont-^n-Argonne, 
destroyed by the Germans on the 4th of 
September. The free and lofty situation of 
the little town — for it was really a good 
deal more than a village — makes its prés- 
ent State the more lamentable. One can 
see it from so far off, and through the tom 
tracerîes of its ruined church the eye 
travels over so lovely a stretch of country ! 
No doubt its beauty enriched the joy of 
wreeking it. 

At the farther end of what was once the 
main street another small knot of houses 
has survived. Chief among them is the 
Hospice for old men, where Sister Gabrî- 
elle Rosnet, when the authorities of Cler- 
mont took to their heels, stayed behind 
to défend her charges, and where, ever 
since, she has nursed an undhninishing 
stream of wounded from the eastem front. 
We found Sœur Rosnet, with her Sisters» 



62 FIGHTING FRANCE 

preparmg tlie midday meal of her patients 
in tibe little kitchen of the Hospice: the 
kitchen which is also her dining-room and 
private office. She insisted on our finding 
time to share the filet and f ried potatoes 
that were just being taken off the stove, 
and while we lunched she told us the story 
of the invasion — of the Hospice doors 
broken down "à coups de crosse" and the 
grey officers bursting in with revolvers, 
and finding her there before them, in the 
big vaulted vestibule, "alone with my old 
men and my Sisters." Sœur Gabrielle 
Rosnet is a small round active woman, 
with a shrewd and ruddy face of the type 
that looks out calmly from the dark back- 
ground of certain Flemish pictures. Her 
blue eyes are full of warmth and humour, 
and she puts as much gaiety as wrath into 
her taie. She does not spare epithets in 
talking of "ces satanés Allemands" — thèse 
Sisters and nurses of the front hâve seen 
sights to dry up the last drop of senti* 



IN ARGONNE es 

mental pity — but through ail the horror 
of those fierce September days, with Cler- 
mont blazîng about her and tibe helpless 
renmant of its inhabîtants under the per- 
pétuai tlireat of massacre, she retained her 
sensé of tlie little inévitable absurdities of 
lîfe, such as her not knowing how to ad- 
dress the officer in conmiand ""because he 
was so tall that I couldn't see up to 
his shoulder-straps." — **Et ils étaient tous 
comme ça/' she added, a sort of reluctant 
admiration in her eyes. 

A subordinate "good Sister" had just 
cleared the table and poured out our coffee 
when a woman came in to say, in a matter- 
of-fact tone, that there was hard fighting 
going on across the valley. She added 
calmly, as she dipped our plates into a 
tub, that an obus had just fallen a mile 
or two off, and that if we liked we could 
see the fighting from a garden over the 
way. It did not take us long to reach that 
gardent. Sœur Gabrielle showed the way. 



64 FIGHTING FRANCE 

bouncing up tlie stairs of a house across 
the Street, and flyîng ai her heels we came 
out on a grassy terrace fuU of soldiers. 

The cannon t^ere boomîng wîthout a 
pause, and seemingly so near that it was 
bewîlderîng to look out across empty fields 
at a hîUsîde tliat seemed like any other. 
But luckily somebody had a field-glass, and 
wîth its help a little corner of the battle 
of Vauquois was suddenly brought close 
to us — the rush of French infantry up 
the slopes, the feathery drift of French 
gun-smoke lower down, and, high up, on 
the wooded crest along the sky, the red 
lîghtnîngs and whîte puffs of the German 
artîUery, Rap, rap, rap, went the answer- 
îng guns, as the troops swept up and dis- 
appeared înto the fire-tongued wood; and 
we stood there dumbfounded at the acci- 
dent of having stumbled on this visible 
épisode of the great subterranean struggle. 

Though Sœur Rosnet had seen too many 
such sights to be much moved, she was 



IN ARGONNE 65 

full of a lively curiosîty, and stood beside 
us, squarely planted in the mud, holding 
the field-glass to her eyes, or passing it 
laughingly about among tbe soldiers. But 
as we tumed to go she said: "They Ve sent 
us Word to be ready for another four hun- 
dred to-night"; and the twinkle died out 
of her good eyes. 

Her expectations were to be dreadfully 
surpassed; for, as we leamed a fortnight 
later from a three colunin communiquêy the 
scène we had assisted at was no less than 
the first act of the suceessf ul assault on the 
high-perched village of Vauquois, a point 
of the first importance to the Germans, 
since it masked their opérations to the 
north of Varennes and conunanded the 
railway by which, since September, they 
hâve been revictualling and reinforcing 
their army in the Argonne. Vauquois had 
been taken by them at the end of Septem- 
ber and, thanks to its strong position on 
a rocky spur, had been almost impregnably 



66 HGHTING FRANCE 

fortified; but tibe attack we looked on at 
from the garden of Clermont, on Sunday, 
February ^Stb, carried the vîctorious French 
troops to tlie top of tbe rîdge, and made 
them masters of a part of the village. 
Driven from it again that nîght, they were 
to retake ît after a five days' struggle of 
exeeptîonal violence and prodigal beroism, 
and are now securely established there in 
a position described as "of vital impor- 
tance to the opérations." "But what ît 
cost!" Sœur Gabrielle said, when we saw 
her again a few days later. 



II 

The time had corne to remember our 
promise and hurry away from Clermont; 
but a few miles f arther our attention was 
arrested by the sight of the Bed Cross 
over a village house. The house was little 
more than a hovel, the village — Blercourt 
it was called — a mère hamlet of scattered 



m ARGONNE 67 

cottages and cow-stables: a place so easily 
overlooked tliat ît seemed likely our sup- 
plies might be needed there. 

An orderly went to find the médecin-chef, 
and we waded after hîm through the mud 
to one after another of the cottages in 
which, with admirable ingenuity, he had 
managed to create out of next to nothing 
the indispensable requirements of a second- 
line ambulance: sterilizing and disinfect- 
ing appliances, a bandage-room, a phar- 
macy, a well-filled wood-shed, and a clean 
kitchen in which "tisanes" were brewing 
over a cheerful fire. A detachment of cav- 
alry was quartered in the village, which 
the trampling of hoofs had tumed into a 
great morass, and as we picked our way 
from cottage to cottage in the doctor's 
wake he told us of the expédients to which 
he had been put to secure even the few 
hovels into which his patients were crowded. 
It was a complaint we were often to hear 
repeated along this line of the front, where 



68 HGHTING FRANCE 

troops and wounded are packed in thou- 
sands into villages meant to house four or 
five hundred; and we admîred the skill and 
dévotion with which he had dealt wîth 
the dijQSculty, and managed to lodge his 
patients deeently. 

We came back to the high-road, and he 
asked us if we should like to see the church. 
It was about three o'clock, and in the low 
porch the curé was rînging the bell for 
vespers. We pushed open the înner doors 
and went in. The church was without 
aisles, and down the nave stood four 
rows of wooden cots with brown blankets. 
In almost every one lay a soldier — the 
doctor's "worst cases" — few of them 
wounded, the greater number stricken with 
fever, bronchitis, frost-bite, pleurisy, or 
some other form of trench-sickness too 
severe to permit of their being carried 
farther from the front. One or two heads 
tumed on the pillows as we entered, but 
for the most part the men did not move. 



IN ARGONNE 60 

The curé, meanwhile, passing around to 
the sacristy, had corne out before the altar 
in hîs vestments, followed by a Kttle white 
acolyte. A handful of women, probably the 
only "civil" inhabitants left, and some of 
the soldiers we had seen about the village, 
had entered the church and stood together 
between the rows of cots; and the service 
began. It was a sunless aftemoon, and the 
picture was ail in monastic shades of black 
and white and ashen grey: the sick under 
their earth-coloured blankets, their livid 
faces against the pillows, the black dresses 
of the women (they seemed ail to be in 
mouming) and the silver haze floating out 
f rom the little acolyte's censer. The only 
light in the scène — the candle-gleams on 
the altar, and their reflection in the em- 
broideries of the curé's chasuble — were 
like a faint streak of sunset on the winter 
dusk. 

For a while the long Latin cadences 
sounded on through the church; but près- 



70 HGHTING FRANCE 

ently the curé took up în French the 
Canticle of the Sacred Heart, composée! 
during the war ot 1870, and the little con- 
grégation joined their trembling voices in 
the refrain: 



Sauvez^ sauvez la France, 
Ne r abandonnez pcw/" 



The reiterated appeal rose in a sob above 
the rows of bodies in the nave: '^Sauvez, 
sauvez la France^"' the women wailed ît 
near the altar, the soldiers took it up from 
the door in stronger tones; but the bodies 
în the cots never stirred, and more and 
more, as the day faded, the church looked 
like a quiet grave-yard in a battle-field. 

After we had left Sainte Menehould the 
sensé of the neamess and all-pervading- 
ness of the war became even more vivid. 
Every road branching away to our left 
was a finger touching a red wound: Va- 
rennes, le Foiur de Paris, le Bois de la 
Grurie, were not more than eight or ten 



m ÂRGONNE 71 

miles to the north. Along our own road the 
stream of motor-vans and the trains of 
ammtinition grew longer and more fré- 
quent. Once we passed a long line.of "Sev- 
enty-fives" going single file up a hillside, 
farther on we watched a big detachment 
of artillery galloping across a stretch of 
open eountry. The movement of supplies 
was continuous, and every village tibrough 
which we passed swarmed with soldiers 
busy loading or unloading the big vans, or 
clustered about the commissariat motors 
while hams and quarters of beef were 
handed out. As we approached Verdun the 
cannonade had grown louder again; and 
when we reached the walls of the town and 
passed under the iron teeth of the port^ 
cullis we felt ourselves in one of the last 
outposts of a mighty Une of défense. The 
désolation of Verdun is as impressive as 
the feverish activity of Chftlons. The civil 
population was evacuated in September, 
and only a small percentage hâve retumed. 



72 FIGHTING FRANCE 

Nîne-tenths of the shops are closed, and 
as the troops are nearly ail in the trenches 
there is hardly any movement în the 
streets. 

The first duty of the traveller who has 
successfully passed the challenge of the 
sentinel at the gâtes îs to climb the steep 
hîU to the cîtadel at the top of the town. 
Hère the milîtary authorities inspect one's 
papers, and deUver a "permis de séjour" 
which must be verified by the police be- 
fore lodgings can be obtained. We found 
the principal hôtel much less crowded than 
the Haute Mère-Dieu at Châlons» though 
many of the oflScers of the garrison mess 
there. The whole atmosphère of the place 
was différent: silent, concentrated, passive. 
To the chance observer, Verdun appears 
to Hve only in its hospitals; and of thèse 
there are fourteen within the walls alone. 
As darkness fell, the streets became com- 
pletely deserted, and the cannonade seemed 
to grow nearer and morë incessant. That 



IN ARGONNE 73 

first nîght the hush was so intense that 
every réverbération from the dark hills 
beyond the walls brought out în the mind 
îts separate vision of destruction; and then, 
just as the strained imagination could bear 
no more, the thmider ceased. A moment 
later, in a court below my Windows, a 
pigeon began to coo; and aU night long the 
two sounds strangely altemated. . . 

On entering the gâtes, the first sight to 
attract us had been a colony of roughly- 
built bimgalows scattered over the miry 
slopes of a little park adjoining the rail- 
way station, and surmounted by the sign: 
**Evacuatîon Hospital No. 6." The next 
moming we went to vîsît ît. A part of the 
station buildings has been adapted to hos- 
pital use, and among them a great roofless 
hall, which the surgeon in charge has cov- 
ered in with canvas and divided down its 
length into a double row of tents. Each 
tent contains two wooden cots, scrupu- 
loiisly clean and raised high above the floor; 



74 FIGHTING FRANCE 

and the immense waxd is warmed by a 
row of stoves down the central passage. 
In the bungalows aeross the road are beds 
for the patients who are to be kept for a 
time before being transferred to the hos- 
pitals in tbe town. In one bungalow an 
operating-room has been installed, in an- 
other are tbe bathing arrangements for 
the neweomers from the trenches. Every 
possible device for the relief of the wounded 
has been carefuUy thought out and intelli- 
gently applied by the siurgeon in charge 
and the infirmière rnajor who mdefatigably 
seconds him. Evacuation Hospital No. 6 
sprang up in an hour, almost, on the 
dreadful August day when four thousand 
wounded lay on stretchers between the 
railway station and the gâte of the little 
park aeross the way; and it has gradually 
grown into the model of what such a hos- 
pital may become in skilful and devoted 
hands. 
Verdun has other excellent hospitals for 



IN ARGONNE 75 

the care of the seveiely wounded who 
cannot be sent farther from the front. 
Among them St. Nicolas, in a big airy 
building on the Meuse, is an example of 
a great French Military Hospital at its 
best; but I visited few others, for the 
main object of my joumey was to get to 
some of the second-line ambulances be- 
yond the town. The first we went to was 
in a small village to the north of Verdun, 
not far from the enemy's lînes at Cosen- 
voye, and was fairly représentative of ail 
the others. The dreary muddy village was 
cranuned with troops, and the ambulance 
had been installed at haphazard in sucfa 
houses as the mihtary authorities could 
spare. The arrangements were primitive 
but clean, and even the dentist had set 
up his apparatus in one of the rooms. The 
men lay on mattresses or in wooden cots, 
and the rooms were heated by stoves. The 
great need, hère as everywhere, was for 
blankets and clean underclothing; for the 



76 FIGHTING FRANCE 

wounded are brought în from the front 
encnisted with frozen mud, and usually 
without having washed or changed for 
weeks. There are no women nurses in thèse 
seeond-line ambulances, but ail the army 
doctors we saw seemed intelligent, and 
anxious to do the best they could for theîr 
men in conditions of unusual hardship. 
The principal obstacle in their way is the 
over-crowded state of the villages. Thou- 
sands of soldiers are camped in ail of them» 
in hygienic conditions that would be bad 
enough for men in health; and there is 
also a great need for light diet, since the 
hospital commissariat of the front appar- 
ently supplies no invaUd foods, and men 
burning with fever hâve to be fed on méat 
and vegetables. 

In the aftemoon we started out again 
in a snow-storm, over a desolate rolling 
country to the south of Verdun. The wind 
blew fiercely across the whitened slopes, 
and no one was in sight but the sentries 



IN ARGONNE 77 

marching up and down the railway Unes, 
and an occasional cavalryman patrolling 
the lonely road. Nothing can exceed the 
moumfuhiess of this depopulated land: we 
mîght hâve been wandering over the wilds 
of Poland. We ran some twenty miles 
down the steel-grey Meuse to a village 
about four miles west of Les Eparges, the 
spot where, for weeks past, a desperate 
struggle had been going on. There must 
hâve been a lull in the fighting that day, 
for the cannon had ceased; but the scène 
at the point where s we left the motor gave 
us the sensé of being on the very edge of 
the conflict. The long straggling village lay 
on the river, and the trampling ofcavalry 
and the hauling of guns had tumed the 
land about it into a mud-flat. Before the 
primitive cottage where the doctor's office 
had been installed were the motors of the 
surgeon and the médical inspector who 
had accompanied us. Near by stood the 
usual flock of grey motor-vans, and ail 



78 FIGHTING FRANCE 

about was the coming and going of cavalry 
remounts, the riding up of officers, the 
unloading of supplies, the incessant activ- 
ity of mud-splashed sergeants and men. 

The main ambulance was in a grange, 
of which the two stories had been parti- 
tioned off into wards. Undér the cobwebby 
raf ters the men lay in rows on clean pal- 
lets, and big stoves made the rooms dry 
and wann. But the great superiority of 
this ambulance was its neamess to a canal- 
boat which had been fitted up with hot 
douches. The boat was spotlessly clean, 
and each cabin was shut off by a gay cur- 
tain of red-flowered chintz. Those cur£aihs 
must do almost as much as the hot water 
to make over the morale of the men: they 
were the most comforting sight of the day. 

Farther north, and on the other bank 
of the Meuse, lies another large village 
which has been tumed into a colony of 
éclopés. Fifteen hundred sick or exhausted 
men are housed there — and there are no 



IN ARGONNE 79 

hot douches or chmtz curtains to cheer 
them! We were taken first to the church, 
a large featureless building at the head of 
the Street. In the doorway our passage was 
obstructed by a mountain of damp straw 
which a gang of hostler-soldiers were pitch- 
forking out of the aisles. The interior of 
the church was dim and suffocating. Be- 
tween the pillars hung screens of plaited 
straw, forming little enclosures in each of 
which about a dozen sick men lay on more 
straw, without mattresses or blankets. No 
beds, no tables, no chairs, no washing ap- 
pliances — in their muddy clothes, as they 
corne f rom the front, they are bedded down 
on the stone floor like cattle till they are 
well enough to go back to their job. It 
was a pitiful contrast to the little church 
at Blercoiui;, with the altar lights twin- 
kling above the clean beds; and one won- 
dered if, even so near the front, it had to 
be. "The African village, we call it," one 
of our companions said with a laugh: but 



80 FIGHTING FRANCE 

the African village has blue sky over ît, 
and a clear stream runs between its mud 
buts. 

We bad been told at Sainte Menehould 
that» for military reasons, we must follow 
a more southerly direction on our retum 
to Cbâlons; and when we left Verdun we 
took the road to Bar-le-Duc. It runs south- 
west over beautiful broken country, un- 
touebed by war except for the f act that its 
villages, like ail tbe otbers in this région» 
are eitber deserted or occupied by troops. 
As we left Verdun behind us the sound of 
the cannon grew fainter and died out, and 
we had the feeling that we were gradually 
passing beyond the flaming boundaries 
into a more normal world; but suddenly, 
at a cross-road, a sign-post snatched us 
baek to war: St. Mihiel, 18 Kilomètres. St. 
Mihiel, the danger-spot of thç région, the 
weak joint in the armour! There it lay, 
up that harmless-looking bye-road, not 
much more than ten miles away — a ten 



IN ARGONNE 81 

minutes' dash would hâve brought us into 
the thick of the grey coats and spiked hel- 
mets! The shadow of that sign-post fol- 
lowed us for miles, darkening the landseape 
like the shadow from a racing storm*cloud. 

Bar-le-Duc seemed unaware of the cloud. 
The ehanning old town was in its normal 
State of provincial apathy: few soldiers 
were about, and hère at last civilian life 
again predominated. After a few days on 
the edge of the war, in that intermediate 
région under its solemn spell, there is some- 
thing strangely lowering to the mood in 
the first sight of a busy uneonseious com- 
munity. One looks instinetively, in the 
eyes of the passers by, for a reflection of 
that other vision, and feels diminished by 
contact with people going so indifferently 
about their business. 

A little way beyond Bar-le-Duc we came 
on another phase of the war-vision, for our 
route lay exactly in the track of the Au- 
gust invasion, and between Bar-le-Duc 



82 HGHTING FRANCE 

and Vîtry-le-Françoîs the high-road is lined 
with mined towns. The first we came to 
was Laimont, a large village wiped out as 
îf a cyclone had beheaded it; then cornes 
Revigny, a town of over two thousand in- 
habitants, less completely levelled because 
its houses were more solidly built, but a 
spectacle of more tragic désolation, with 
its wide streets winding between scorched 
and contorted fragments of masonry, bits 
of shop-fronts, handsome doorways, the 
colonnaded court of a public building. A 
few miles farther lies the most piteous of 
the group : the village of Heiltz-le-Maurupt, 
once pleasantly set in gardens and or- 
chards, now an ugly waste like the others, 
and with a Kttle church so stripped and 
wounded and dishonoured that it Ues there 
by the roadside like a human victim. 

In this part of the country, which is 
one of many cross-roads, we began to hâve 
unexpected diflSculty in finding our way, 
for the names and distances on the mile- 



IN ARGONNE 88 

stones hâve ail been effaced, the sign-posts 
thrown down and the enamelled plaques 
on the houses at the entrance to the vil- 
lages removed. One report has it that this 
précaution was taken by the inhabitants 
at the approach of the invading army, an- 
other that the Germans themselves de- 
molished the sign-posts and plastered over 
the mile-stones in order to paint on them 
misleading and encouraging distances. The 
resuit is extremely bewildering, for, ail the 
villages being either in ruins or uninhab- 
ited, there is no one to question but the 
soldiers one meets, and their answer is 
almost invariably: "We don*t know — we 
don't belong hère/* One is in luck if one 
cornes across a sentinel who knows the 
name of the village he is guarding. 

It was the strangest of sensations to 
find ourselves in a chartless wildemess 
within sixty or seventy miles of Paris, and 
to wander, as we did, for hours across a 
high heathery waste, with wide blue dis- 



84 ÏIGHTING FRANCE 

tances to north and south, and in ail the 
scène not a landmark by means of whîch 
we could make a guess at our whereabouts. 
One of our haphazard tums at last brought 
us into a muddy bye-road with long Unes 
of " Seventy-fives " ranged along its banks 
like grey ant-eaters in some monstrous 
ménagerie. A little farther on we came to 
a bemired village swanning with artillery 
and cavalry, and found ourselves in the 
thick of an encampment just on the move. 
It seems improbable that we were meant 
to be there, for our arrivai caused such 
surprise that no sentry remembered to 
challenge us, and obsequiously saluting 
sous-officiers instantly cleared a way for 
the motor. So, by a happy accident, we 
caught one more war-picture, ail of vé- 
hément movement, as we passed out of 
the zone of war. 

We were still very distinctly in it on re- 
tuming to Châlons, which, if it had seemed 
packed on our previous visit, was now 



IN ARGONNE 85 

quîvering and cracking with fresh crowds. 
The stir about the fountain, in the square 
before the Haute Mère-Dieu, was more 
melodramatic than ever. Every one was 
in a hurry, every one booted and mud- 
splashed, and spurred or sworded or des- 
patch-bagged, or somehow labelled as a 
member of the huge miUtary beehive. The 
privilège of telephoning and telegraphing 
being denied to civiHans in the war-zone, 
it was ominous to arrive at night-fall on 
such a erowded scène, and we were not 
surprîsed to be told that there was not a 
room left at the Haute Mère-Dieu, and 
that even the sofas in the reading-room 
had been let for the night. At every other 
inn in the town we met with the same 
answer; and finally we decided to ask per- 
mission to go on as far as Epemay, about 
twelve miles off. At Head-quarters we were 
told that our request could not be granted. 
No motors are allowed to eirculate after 
night-fall in the zone of war, and the 



86 FIGHTING FRANCE 

officer charged with the distribution of 
motor-permits pointed out that, even if 
an exception were made in our favour, 
we sliould probably be tumed back by 
the first sentinel we met, only to find our- 
selves unable to re-enter Châlons without 
another permit! This alternative was so 
alarming that we began to think ourselves 
relatively lucky to be on the right side of 
the gâtes; and we went back to the Haute 
Mère-Dieu to squeeze into a crowded cor- 
ner of the restaurant for dintier. The hope 
that some one might hâve suddenly left 
the hôtel in the interval was not realized; 
but after dinner we leamed from the land- 
lady that she had certain rooms perma- 
nently reserved for the use of the Staff, 
and that, as thèse rooms had not yet been 
called for that evening, we might possibly 
be allowed to occupy them for the night. 

At Châlons the Head-quarters are in 
the Préfecture, a coldly handsome build- 
ing of the eighteenth centmy, and there. 



IN ÂRGONNE 87 

in a majestic stone vestibule» beneath the 
gilded ramp of a great festal staircase, we 
waited in amdous suspense, among the or- 
derlies and estafettes, while our unusual 
request was considered. The resuit of the 
deUberation was an expression of regret: 
nothing could be done for us» as officers 
might at any moment arrive from thé 
General Head-quarters and require the 
rooms. It was then past nine o'elock, and 

bitterly cold — and we began to wonder* 

« 

Finally the polite officer who had been 
charged to dismiss us, moved to compas- 
sion at our plight, offered to give us » 
laissez-passer back to Paris. But Paris was 
about a himdred and twenty-five miles off , 
the night was dark, the èold was piercing 
— and at every cross-road and railway 
Crossing a sentinel would hâve to be con- 
vinced of our right to go farther. We re- 
membered the waming given us earlier in 
the evening, and, declining the offer, went 
out again into the cold. And just then 



88 ïlGHTING FRANCE 

chance took pity on us. In the restaurant 
we had run across a f riend attached to the 
Staff, and now, meeting him again in the 
depth of our diflSculty, we were told of 
lodgings to be found near by. He could 
not take us there, for it was past the 
hour when he had a right to be out, or 
we either, for that matter, since curfew 
sounds at nine at Châlons. But he told us 
how to find our way through the maze 
of little unlit streets about the Cathedral; 
standing there beside the motor, in the 
icy darkness of the deserted square, and 
whispering hastily, as he tumed to leave 
us: "You ought not to be out so late; but 
the Word tonight is Jéna. When you give 
it to the chauffeur, be sure no sentinel 
overhears you." With that he was up the 
wide steps, the glass doors had closed on 
him, and I stood there in the pitch-black 
night, suddenly unable to believe that I 
was I, or Chàlons Châlons, or that a young 
man who in Paris drops in to dine with 



IN ARGONNE 89 

me and talk over new books and plays» 
had been whisperîng a password in my 
ear to carry me michallenged to a house a 
few streets away! The sensé of mireality 
produced by that one word was so over- 
whelming that for a blissful moment the 
whole f abric of what I had been experi- 
encing, the whole huge and oppressive and 
unescapable fact of the war, slipped away 
like a tom cobweb, and I seemed to see 
behind it the reassuring face of things as 
they used to be. 

The next moming dispelled that vision. 
We woke to a noise of guns doser and 
more incessant than even the first night's 
cannonade at Verdun; and when we went 
oiit into the streets it seemed as if, over- 
night, a new army had sprung out of the 
gromid. Waylaid at one corner after an- 
other by the long tide of troops streaming 
out through the town to the northem 
suburbs, we saw in tum ail the varions 
divisions of the imfolding frieze: first the 



90 FIGHTING FRANCE 

infantiy and artîUeiy, the sappers and mi- 
ners, thé endless trains of guns and am- 
munition, then the long Une of grey supply- 
waggons, and finally the stretcher-bearers 
following the Red Cross ambulances. Ail 
ihe story of a day's warfare was written 
in the spectacle of that endless silent flow 
to the front: and we were to read it agaîn, 
a few days later, in the terse announce- 
ment of "renewed activity" about Snippes» 
and of the bloody strip of ground gained 
between Perthes and Beauséjour. 



k 



IN LOBBAINE AND THE YOSGES 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 

Nancy, May 13tli, 1915. 
OESIDE me. on my writing-table, *u.d, 
^^^ a bunch of peonîes, the jolly round- 
faced pînk peonies of the village garden. 
They were picked ihîs aftemoon in the 
garden of a mined house at Gerbéviller — 
a house so calcined and convulsed that, 
for epithets dire enough to fit it, one would 
hâve to borrow from a Hebrew prophet 
gloating over the fall of a city of idolaters. 
Since leaving Paris yesterday we hâve 
passed through streets and streets of such 
murdered houses, through town after town 
spread out in its last writhings; and before 
the black holes that were homes, along the 
edge of the chasms ihat were streets, every- 
where we hâve seen flowers and vegetables 
springing up m freshly raked and watered 
gardens. My pink peonies were not intro- 

93 



d4 FIGHTING FRANCE 

duced to point the stale allegory of uncon- 
scious Nature veiling Man's havoc: they 
are put on my first page as a symbol of con- 
scious human energy coming back to re- 
plant and rebuild the wildemess. . . 

Last March, in the Argonne, the towns 
we passed through seemed quite dead; but 
yesterday new life was budding every- 
where. We were following another track of 
the invasion, one of the huge tiger-scratehes 
that the Beast flung over the land last 
September, between Vitry-le-François and 
Bap-le-Duc. Etrepy, Pargny, Sermaize-les- 
Bains, Andemay, are the names of this 
group of vietims: Sermaize a pretty water- 
ing-plaee along wooded slopes, the others 
large viUages frmged with farms, and aU 
now mère serofulous blotches on the soft 
sprîng scène. But in many we heard the 
soimd of hammers, and saw brick-layers 
and masons at work. Even in the most 
mortally stricken there were signs of re- 
tuming life: children playing among the 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 95 

stone heaps, and now and then a cautions 
older face peering ont of a shed propped 
against the ruins. In one place an ancîent 
tram-car had been converted înto a café 
and labelled: ''Au Restaurant des Ruines"; 
and everywhere between the calcined walls 
the caref uUy combed gardens aligned their 
radishes and lettuce-tops. 

From Bar-le-Duc we tumed northeast, 
and as we entered the forest of Commercy 
we began to hear again the Voice of the 
Front. It was the warmest and stillest of 
May days, and in the clearing where we 
stopped for luncheon the familiar boom 
broke with a magnified loudness on the 
noonday hush. In the intervais between 
the crashes there was not a sound but the 
gnats' hum in the moist sunshine and the 
dryad-call of the cuckoo from greener 
depths. At the end of the lane a few cav- 
alrymen rode by in shabby blue, their 
horses' flanks gUnting like ripe chestnuts. 
They stopped to chat and accept some 



96 FIGHUNG FRANCE 

cigarettes, and when they had trotted off 
again the gnat, the cuckoo and the can- 
non took up theîr trio. . . 

The town of Commercy looked so un- 
disturbed that the cannonade rocking it 
might hâve been some unheeded écho of 
the hills. Thèse frontier towns inured to 
the clash of war go about their business 
with what one might caU stoUdity if there 
were not finer, and truer, names for it. In 
Commercy, to be sure, there is little busi- 
ness to go about just now save that con- 
nected with the military occupation; but 
the peaceful look of the sunny sleepy 
streets made one doubt if the fighting Une 
was really less than five miles away. • . 
Yet the French, with an odd perversion of 
race-vanity, still persist in speaking of 
themselves as a "nervous and impression- 
able " people ! 

This aftemoon, on the road to Gerbé- 
viller, we were again in the track of the 



IN LOBHAINE AND THE VOSGES 97 

September invasion. Over ail ihe slopes 
now cool with spring foliage the battle 
rocked backward and forward during those 
bumîng autumn days; and every mile of 
the struggle bas left its ghastly traces. 
The fields are full of wooden crosses which 
the ploughshare makes a circuit to avoid; 
many of the villages bave been partly 
wrecked, and hère and there an isolated 
ruin marks the nucleus of a fiercer struggle. 
But the landscape, in its first sweet leafi- 
ness, is so alive with ploughing and sowing 
and ail the natural tasks of spring, that 
the war scars seem like traces of a long- 
past woe; and it was not till a bend of the 
road brought us in sight of Gerbéviller that 
we breathed again the choking air of prés- 
ent horror. 

Grerbéviller, stretched out at ease on its 
slopes above the Meurthe, must bave 
been a happy place to live in. The streets 
slanted up between scattered bouses in 
gardens to the great Louis XIV château 



98 FIGHTING FRANCE 

above the town and the church that bal- 
ancée! ît. So much one can reconstruct 
from the first glîmpse across the valley; 
but when one entera ihe town ail perepec- 
tive is lost in chaos. Gerbéviller has taken 
to heraelf ihe title of "the niartyr town"; 
an honour to which many sister vîctîms 
might dispute her claîm! But as a sensa- 
tional image of havoc it seems improbable 
that any can surpass her. Her ruins seem 
to hâve been simultaneously vomited up 
from the depths and hurled down from the 
skies, as though she had perished in some 
monstrous clash of earthquake and tor- 
nado; and it fills one with a cold despair 
to know that this double destruction was 
no accident of nature but a piously planned 
and methodically executed human deed. 
From the opposite heights the poor little 
garden-girt town was shelled like a steel 
fortress; then, when the Germans entered, 
a fire was built in every house, and at the 
nicely-timed right moment one of the ex- 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 00 

plosîve tabloïds which the fearless Teuton 
carries about for hîs IsLud-Lusitanias was 
tossed on each heartli. It was ail so well 
done that one wonders — almost apolo- 
getically for Gennan thoroughness — that 
any of the hnman rats escaped from their 
holes; but some did» and were neatly 
spitted on lurking bayonets. 

One old woman, hearing her son's death- 
cry, rashly looked out of her door. A bullet 
instantly laid her low among her phloxes 
and lilies; and there, m her little garden, 
her dead body was dishonoured* It seemed 
singularly appropriate, in such a scène, to 
read above a blackened doorway the sign: 
"Monuments Funèbres," and to observe 
that the house the doorway once belonged 
to had f ormed the angle of a lane called 
"La Ruelle des Orphelines." 

At one end of the main street of Gerbé- 
viUer there once stood a charming house, 
of the sober old Lorraine pattem, with 
low door, deep rqof and ample gables: it 



100 FIGHTING FRANCE 

was in the garden of thîs house that my 
pînk peonîes were picked for me by its 
owner, Mr. Lîégeay, a former Mayor of 
Gerbéviller, who witnessed ail the horrors 
of the invasion. 

Mr. Liégeay is now living in a neigh- 
bour's cellar, his own beîng fully oecupied 
by the débris of his charming house. He 
told us the story of the three days of the 
German occupation; how he and his wife 
and nièce, and the niece's babies, took to 
their cellar while the Germans set the 
house on fire, and how, peering through a 
door înto the stable-yard, they saw that 
the soldiers suspected they were within 
and were trying to get at them. Luckily 
the incendiaries had heaped wood and straw 
ail round the outside of the house, and the 
blaze was so hot that they could not reach 
the door. Between the arch of the door- 
way and the door itself was a half-moon 
opening; and Mr. Liégeay and his family, 
during three days and three nights, broke 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 101 

up ail the barrels in the cellar and threw 
the bits out through the opening to feed 
the fire in ihe yard, 

Finally, on the third day, when they 
began to be afraid that the ruins of the 
house would fall in on tbem, tbey made a 
dalsh for safety. The house was on the 
edge of the town, and the women and 
children managed to get away into the 
country; but Mr. liégeay was surprised 
in his garden by a German soldier. He 
made a rush for the high wall of the ad- 
joining cemetery, and scrambling over it 
slipped down between the wall and a big 
granité cross. The cross was covered with 
the hideous wire and glass wreaths dear to 
French moumers; and with tbese oppor- 
tune mementoes Mr. liégeay roofed him- 
self in, lying wedged in his narrow hiding- 
place from three in the af temoon till night, 
and listening to the voices of tbe soldiers 
who were hunting for him among the 
grave-stones. Luckily it was their last day 



102 HGHTING FRANCE 

at Gerbéviller, and the Gennan retxeat 
saved his life. 

l^ven in Gerbéviller we saw no worse 
scène of destruction than the particular 
spot in which the ex-mayor stood while 
he told his story. He looked about him at 
the heaps of blackened brick and con- 
torted iron. "This was my dining-room," 
he said. "There was some good old panel- 
ling on the walls, and some jQne prints 
that had been a wedding-present to my 
grand-father." He led us into another black 
pit, "This was our sitting-room: you see 
what a view we had/' He sighed, and 
added philosophically : "I suppose we were 
too well off. I even had an electric light 
out there on the terrace, to read my paper 
by on summer evenings. Yes, we were too 
well off. . ." That was ail. 

Meanwhile ail the town had been red 
with horror — flame and shot and tortures 
unnameable; and at the other end of the 
long Street, a woman, a Sister of Charity, 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 108 

had lield her own like Sœur Gabrielle at 
Clennont-en-Argonne, gatherîng her flock of 
old men and children about her and inter* 
posing her short stout figure between them 
and the f ury of the Germans. We found her 
in her Hospice, a ruddy, indomitable woman 
who related with a quiet indignation more 
thriUing than invective the hideous détails 
of the bloody three days; but that aheady 
belongs to the past, and at présent she is 
much more concemed with the task of 
clothing and feeding GerbéviUer. For two 
thirds of the population hâve already 
"come home" — that is what they call 
the retum to this désert ! " You see," Sœur 
JuUe explained, ^'there are the crops to 
sow, the gardens to tend. They had to 
corne back. The govemment is building 
wooden shelters for them; and people wîll 
surely send us beds and linen/' (Of course 
they would, one felt as one listened!) 
"Heavy boots, too — boots for field-Iabour- 
ers. We want them for women as well as 



104 FIGHTING FRANCE 

men — lîke thèse/' Sœur Julie, smiling, 
tumed up a hob-nailed sole. "I hâve dî- 
rected ail the work on our Hospice farm 
myself • Ail the wpmen are working in the 
fields — we must take the place of the 
men." And I seemed to see my pink peo- 
nies flowering in the very prints of ter 
sturdy boots ! 

May 14th. 

Nancy, the most beautiful town in 
France, has never been as beautiful as 
now. Corning back to it last evening from 
a round of ruins one felt as if the humbler 
Sisters sacrificed to spare it were pleading 
with one not to f orget them in the contem- 
plation of its dearly-bought perfection. 

The last time I looked out on the great 
architectural setting of the Place Stanislas 
was on a hot July evening, the evening of 
the National Fête. The square and the 
avenues leading to it swarmed with peo- 
ple, and as darkness fell the balanced Unes 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 105 

of arches and palaces sprang out in many 
coloured light. Garlands of lamps looped 
the arcades leading into the Place de la 
Carrière, peacock-coloured fires flared from 
the Arch ôf Triumph, long curves of radî- 
ance beat like wings over the thickets of 
the park, the sculptures of the fountains, 
the brown-and-gold foliation of Jean Da- 
mour's great gâtes; and under this roofing 
of light was the murmur of a happy crowd 
carelessly celebrating the tradition of half- 
forgotten victories. 

Now, at sunset, ail life ceases in Nancy 
aad veil after veil of silence cornes down 
on the deserted Place and îts empty per- 
spectives. Last night by nine the few lin- 
gering lights in the streets had been put 
out, every window was blind, and the 
moonless night lay over the city like a 
canopy of velvet. Then, from some remote 
point, the arc of a search-light swept the 
sky, laid a fugitive pallor on darkened 
palace-fronts, a gleam of gold on invisible 



106 FIGHTING FRANCE 

gâtes, trembled âcross the black vault and 
vanished, leaving ît still blacker. When we 
came out of the darkened restaurant on 
the corner of the square, and the iron 
curtain of the entrance had been hastily 
dropped on us, we stood in such complète 
night that it took a waiter's friendly hand 
to guide us to the curbstone. Then, as we 
grew used to the darkness, we saw it lyîng 
still more densely under the colonnade of 
the Place de la Carrière and the clipped 
trees beyond. The ordered masses of archi- 
tecture became august, the spaces bétween 
them inmiense, and the black sky faintly 
strewn with stars seemed to overarch an 
enchanted city. Not a footstep sounded, 
not a leaf rustled, not a breath of air drew 
under the arches. And suddenly, through 
the dumb night, the sound of the cannon 
began. 

May 14th. 
Luncheon with the General Staff in an 
old bourgeois house of a little town as 



IN LOEHAINE AND THE VOSGES 107 

sleepy as "Cranford." In the warm walled 
gardens everything was blooming at once: 
labumums, lilacs, red hawthom, Banksîa 
roses and ail the pleasant boîtier plants 
that go with box and lavender. Never be- 
fore dîd the flowers answer the spring roU- 
call with such a rush ! Upstairs, in the Em- 
pire bedroom which the General has tnmed 
into his study, it was amusingly incongru- 
ous to see the sturdy provincial fnmiture 
littered with war-maps, trench-plans» aéro- 
plane photographs and ail the documenta- 
tion of modem war. Through the Windows 
bées himmied, the garden rustled, and one 
felt, close by, behind the walls of other 
gardens, the untroubled continuance of a 
pladd and orderly bourgeois life. 

We started early for Mousson on the 
Moselle, the ruined hill-fortress that gives 
its name to the better-known town at its 
foot. Our road ran below the long range 
of the "Grand Couronné,*' the Une of hills 
curving southeast from Pont-à-Mousson 



108 MGHTING FRANCE 

to St. Nicolas du Port. AU through tliîs 
pleasant broken country the battle shook 
and swayed last autumn; but few signs of 
those days are lef t except the wooden crosses 
in the fields. No troops are visible, and the 
pictures of war that made the Argonne so 
tragic last March are replaced by peace- 
ful rustic scènes. On the way to Mousson 
the road is overhung by an Italian-looking 
village clustered about a hill-top. It marks 
the exact spot at which, last August, the 
German invasion was finally checked and 
flung back; and the Muse of History points 
out that on this very hill has long stood a 
mémorial shaft mscribed: Hère, in the y car 
362, Jovirms defeated the Teutonic hordes. 

A little way up the ascent to Mousson 
we left the motor behind a bit of rising 
ground. The road is raked by the German 
lines, and stray pedestrians (unless in à 
group) are less liable than a motor to hâve 
a shell spent on them. We climbed under a 
driving grey sky which swept gusts of rain 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 109 

across our road. In the lee of the castle 
we stopped to look down at the valley of 
the Moselle, the slate roofs of Pont-à- 
Mousson and the broken bridge which once 
linked together the two sîdes of the town, 
Nothing but the wreck of the bridge 
showed that we were on the edge of war, 
The wind was too high for firing, and we 
saw BO reason for believing that the wood 
just behind the Hospice roof at our feet 
was seamed with German trenches and 
bristling with guns, or that from every 
slope across the valley the eye of the can- 
non sleeplessly glared. But there the Ger- 
mans were, drawing an iron ring about 
three sides of the watch-tower; and as one 
peered through an embrasure of the ancient 
walls one gradually found one's self re- 
living the sensations of the little medi- 
œval burgh as it looked out on some earlier 
circle of besiegers. The longer one looked^ 
the more oppressive and menacing the in- 
visibiUty of the foe became. ^^ There they 



110 FIGHTING FRANCE 

are — and there — and there.** We strained 
our eyes obedîently, but saw only calm 
hillsides, dozîng farms. It was as if the 
earth îtself were the enemy, as if the hordes 
of evil were in the clods and grass-blades. 
Only one conîcal hill close by showed an 
odd artificial patteming, like the work of 
huge ants who had scarred it with criss- 
cross ridges. We were told that thèse were 
French trenches, but they looked much 
more like the harmless traces of a prehis- 
toric camp. 

Suddenly an officer, pointing to tte west 
of the trenched hill said: **Do you see that 
fann?" It lay just below, near the river, 
and so close that good eyes could easily 
hâve discemed people or animais in the 
farm-yard, if there had been aLny; but the 
whole place seemed to be sleeping the 
sleep of bucolic peace. **They are there,^* 
the officer said; and the innocent vignette 
framed by my field-glass suddenly glared 
back at me like a human mask of hâte. 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 111 

The loudest cannonade had not made 
"them" seem as real as that ! . . . 

At thîs point the mîlitary Unes and the 
old political frontier everywhere overlap, 
and in a cleft of the wooded hills that con- 
ceal the German battei^es we saw a dark 
grey blur on the grey horizon. It was 
Metz, the Promised City, lying there with 
its fair steeples and towers, like the mystic 
banner that Constantine saw upon the 
sky. . . 

Through wet vîneyards and orchards 
we scrambled down the hill to the river 
and entered Pont-à-Mousson. It was by 
mère meteorological good luck that we got 
there, for if the winds had been asleep the 
guns would hâve been awake, and when 
they wake poor Pont-à-Mousson îs not at 
home to visitors. One understood why as 
one stctod in the riverside garden of the 
great Premonstratensîan Monastery whîch 
is now the hospîtal and the gênerai asylum 
of the town. Between the clipped limes and 



112 FIGHTING FRANCE 

formai borders the German shells had 
scooped out three or four "dreadful hol- 
lows," îir one of which, only last week, a 
little gîrl found her death; and tihe façade 
of the building is pock-marked by shot 
and disfigured with gapîng holes. Yet in 
this precarious shelter Sister Theresia, of 
the same indomitable breed as the Sisters 
of Clermont and Gerbéviller, has gathered 
a miscellaneous flock of soldiers wounded 
în the trenches, cîvilians shattered by the 
bombardinent, éclopés, old women and 
children: ail the human wreckage of this 
storm-beaten point of the front. Sister 
Theresia seems in no wise disconcerted by 
the fact that the shells continually play 
over her roof. The building is immense and 
spreading, and when one wing is damaged 
she picks up her protégés and trots them 
off, bed and baggage, to another. "Je 'pro- 
mène mes malades/' she said calmly, as if 
boasting of the varied accommodation of 
an ultra-modem hospital, as she led us 



IN LOEHAINE AND THE VOSGES IIS 

through vaulted and stuccoed galleries 
where caryatid-saints look down in plaster 
pomp on the rows of brown-blanketed 
pallets and the long tables at which hag- 
gard éclopés were enjoyîng their evening 
soup. 

May 15th. 

I hâve seen the happiest being on earth: 
a man who has found his job. 

This aftemoon we motored southwest 
of Nancy to a lîttle place called Ménil-sur- 
Belvîtte. The name îs not yet întimately 
known to hîstory, but there are reasons 
why it desenres to be, and in one man's 
mînd it already is. Ménil-sur-Belvitte is 
a village on the edge of the Vosges. It is 
badly battered, for awful fighting took 
place there in the first month of the war. 
The houses lie in a hollow, and just be- 
yond it the ground rises and spreads into 
a plateau waving with wheat and backed 
by wooded slopes — the idéal "battle- 



114 HGHTING FRANCE 

ground" of the hîstory-books. And hère 
a real above-ground battle of the old ob- 
solète kînd took place, and the French, 
driving the Germans back vîctorionsly, 
fell by thousands în the trampled wheat. 

The church of M énil îs a min, but the 
parsonage still stands — a plain lîttle honse 
at the end of the street; and hère the curé 
receîved us, and led us înto a room whîch 
he has tumed into a chapel. The chapel 
is also a war muséum, and everything în ît 
has something to do with the battle that 
took place among the wheat-fields. The 
candelabra on the altar are made of "Sev- 
enty-five*' shells, the Vîrgîn's halo îs com- 
posed of radiatîng bayonets, the walls are 
întrîcately adomed wîth Gerïnan trophîes 
and French relies, and on the ceilîng the 
curé has had painted a kînd of zodiacal 
chart of the whole région, în whîch Ménil- 
sur-Belvîtte's handful of houses figures as 
the central orb of the System, and Verdun, 
Nancy, Metz, and Belfort as îts humble 



IN LOEHAINE AND THE VOSGES 115 

satellites. But the chapel-museum îs only 
a surplus expression of the curé's impas- 
sioned dedication to the dead. His real 
work has been done on the battle-field» 
where row after row of graves, marked and 
listed as soon as the struggle was over, 
hâve been fenced about, symmetrically 
disposed, planted with flowers and young 
firs, and marked by the names and death- 
dates of the fallen. As he led us from one 
of thèse enclosures to another his face was 
lit with the flame of a gratified vocation. 
This particular man was made to do this 
particular thing: he is a bom coUector, 
classifier, and hero-worshipper. In the hall 
of the "presbytère" hangs a case of care- 
fully-mounted butterflies, the resuit, no 
doubt, of an earlier passion for collecting. 
His "spécimens" hâve changed, that is aU: 
he has passed from butterflies to men, 
£rom the actual to the visionary Psyché. 

On the way to Ménil we stopped at the 
village of Crévic. The Germans were there 



116 FIGHTING FRANCE 

în August, but the place is untouched — 
except for one house. That house, a large 
one, standing in a park at one end of the 
village, was the birth-place and home of 
General Lyautey, one of France's best sol- 
diers, and Germany's worst enemy in 
Africa. It is no exaggeration to say that 
last August General Lyautey, by his 
promptness and audacity, saved M orocco 
for France. The Germans ïmow it, and 
hâte him; and as soon as the fîrst soldiers 
reached Crévic — so obsciue and imper- 
ceptible a spot that even German omni- 
science might hâve missedit — the oflScer 
in command asked for General Lyautey 's 
house, went straight to it, had ail the 
papers, portraits, fumiture and family 
relies piled in a bonfire in the court, and 
then bumt down the house. As we sat 
in the neglected park with the plaintive 
ruin bef ore us we heard f rom the gardener 
this typical taie of German thoroughness 
and German chivalry. It is corroborated 



IN LOBBAINE AND THE VOSGES HT 

by the fact that not another house in 
Crévic was destroyed. 

May 16tli. 
About two mUes troiù tbe German fron- 
tîer (Jrontier just hère as well as front) 
an isolated hill rises out of the Lorraine 
meadows. East of ît, a rîbbon of river 
winds among poplars, wd that ribbon is 
the boundary between Empire and Re- 
public. On such a clear day as this the 
view from the hill is extraordinarily in- 
teresting. From îts grassy top a little 
aéroplane cannon stares to heaven, wateh- 
ing the east for the danger speck; and the 
circumference of the hill is f urrowed by a 
deep trench — a "bowel/* rather — wind- 
ing invisibly from one subterranean ob- 
servation post to another. In each of thèse 
earthly warrens (ingeniously wattled, roofed 
and iron-sheeted) stand two or three artil- 
lery offîcers with keen quiet faces, direct- 
ing by téléphone the fire of batteries 



118 HGHTING FRANCE 

nestlîng somewhere în the woods four or 
five miles away. Interesting as the place 
was, the men who hved there interested 
me far more. They obviously belonged to 
différent classes, and had received a dif- 
férent social éducation; but their mental 
and moral fratemity was complète. They 
were ail fairly young, and their faces had 
the look that war has given to French 
faces: a look of sharpened intelligence, 
strengthened will and sobered judgment, 
as if every faculty, trebly vivified, were so 
bent on the one end that personal prob- 
lems had been pushed back to the vanish- 
ing point of the great perspective. 

From this vigilant height — one of the 
intentest eyes open on the f routier — we 
went a short distance down the hillside to 
a village out of range of the guns, where 
the conunanding officer gave us tea in a 
charming old house with a terraced gar- 
den full of flowers and puppies. Below the 
terrace, lost Lorraine stretched away to her 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 119 

blue heights, a vision of snmmer peace: 
and just above us the unsleeping MU kept 
watch, its signal-wires trembling ûight and 
day. It was one of the intervais of rest 
and sweetness when the whole horrible 
black business seems to press most intoler- 
ably on the nerves. 

Below the village the road wound down 
to a forest that had formed a dark blur 
in our bird*s-eye view of the plain. We 
passed into the forest and halted on the 
edge of a colony of queer exotic huts. On 
ail sides they peeped through the branches, 
themselves so branched and sodded and 
leafy that they seemed like some transi- 
tion form between tree and house. We were 
in one of the so-called "villages nègres** 
of the second-line trenches, the joUy little 
settlements to which the troops retire 
after doing theîr shift under fire. This par- 
ticular colony has been developed to an 
extrême degree of comfort and safety. 
The houses are partly underground, con- 



120 FIGHTING FRANCE 

nected by deep winding "bowels" over 
which lîght rustic bridges hâve been thrown, 
and so profoundly roofed with sods that 
as much of them as shows above ground 
îs shell-proof. Yet they are real houses, 
with real doors and Windows under theîr 
grass-eaves, real fumiture inside, and real 
beds of daisîes and pansies at their doors. 
In the ColoneFs bungalow a bîg bunch of 
spring flowers bloomed on the table, and 
everywhere we saw the same neatness and 
order, the same amused pride in the look 
of things. The men were dinîng at long 
trestle-tables under the trees; tired, un- 
shaven men in shabby uniforms of ail cuts 
and ahnost every colour. They were off 
duty, relaxed, in a good humour; but every 
face had the look of the faces watching on 
the hill-top. Wherever I go among thèse 
men of the front I hâve the same impres- 
sion: the impression that the absorbing un- 
divided thought of the Defence of France 
lives in the heart and brain of each soldier 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 121 

as intensely as in the heart and braîn of 
theîr chief . 

We walked a dozen yards down the road 
and came to the edge of the forest. A wat- 
tled palisade bounded it, and through a 
gap in the palisade we looked out across 
a field to the roofs of a quiet village a mile 
away. I went out a few steps into the field 
and was abruptly pulled back. **Take carê 
— those are the trenches!" What looked 
like a ridge thrown up by a plough was 
the enemy^s Une; and in the quiet village 
French cannon watched, Suddenly, as we 
stood there, they woke, and at the same 
moment we heard the unmistakable Gr-r-r 
of an aéroplane and saw a Bird of Evil 
high up against the blue. Snap, snap, snap 
barked the mitrailleuse on the hill, the 
soldiers jumped from their wine and 
strained their eyes through the trees, and 
the Taube, finding itself the centre of so 
much attention, tumed grey tail and 
swished away to the concealing clouds. 



12£ HGHTING FRANCE 

May 17th. 

Today we started wîth an întenser sensé 
of adventure, Hitherto we had always 
been told beforehand where we were goîng 
and how much we were to be allowed to 
see; but now we were beîng launched înto 
the unknown. Beyond a certain point ail 
was conjecture — we Imew only that what 
happened after that would dépend on the 
good-will of a Colonel of Chasseurs-à-pied 
whom we were to go a long way to find, 
up into the f olds of the mountains on our 
southeast horizon. 

We picked up a staff-ofBcer at Head- 
quarters and flew on to a battered town 
on the edge of the hills. From there we 
wound up through a narrowing valley, 
under wooded cliffs, to a little settlement 
where the Colonel of the Brigade was to 
be found. There was a short conférence 
between the Colonel and our staff-oflficer, 
and then we annexed a Captain of Chas- 
seurs and spun away again. Our road lay 



IN LOBUÂINE AND THE VOSGES 12S 

through a town so exposed that our corn- 
panion from Head-quarters suggested the 
advisabîlity of avoiding ît; but our guide 
hadn't the heart to înflict such a disap- 
pointment on hîs new acquaintances. "Oh, 
we won't stop the motor — we *11 just 
dash through/' he said indulgently; and 
in the excess of his indulgence he even 
pennitted us to dash slowly. 

Oh, that poor town — when we reached 
it, along a road ploughed with fresh obus- 
holes, I didn't want to stop the motor; I 
wanted to hurry on and blot the pieture 
from my memory! It was doubly sad to 
look at because of the fact that it wasn't 
quite dead; faint spasms of life still quiv- 
ered through it. A few children played in 
the ravaged streets; a few pale mothers 
watched them from eellar doorways. "They 
oughtn't to be hère," our guide explained; 
"but about a hundred and fifty begged so 
hard to stay that the General gave them 
leave. The oflBeei* in command has an eye* 



124 HGHTING FRANCE 

on them, and whenever he gives the signal 
they dîve down înto theîr burrows. He says 
they are perfectly obedient. It was he who 
asked that they might stay. . /' 

Up and up înto the hills. The vision of 
hnman pain and ruin was lost in beauty. 
We were among the firs, and the air was 
full of bahn. The mossy banks gave out 
a scent of rain, and little water-falls from 
the heights set the branches trembling 
over secret pools. At each tum of the road, 
forest, and always more forest, chmbing 
with us as we climbed, and dropping away 
from us to narrow valleys that converged 
on slate-blue distances. At one of thèse 
tums we overtook a company of soldiers, 
spade on shoulder and bags of tools across 
their backs — "trench-workers" swinging 
up to the heights to which we were bound. 
Life must be a better thing in this crystal 
air than in the mud-welter of the Argonne 
and the fogs of the North; and thèse men's 
faces were fresh with wind and weather. 



IN LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 125 

Higher still • . . and presently a hait on 
a ridge, in another "black village," this 
time almost a town ! The soldiers gathered 
round us as the motor stopped — throngs 
of chasseurs-à-pîed in faded, trench-stained 
uniforms — for few visitors climb to this 
point, and their pleasiu^ at the sight of 
new faces was presently expressed in a 
large *^Vive V Amérique I** scrawled on the 
door of the car. L'Amérique was glad and 
proud to be there, and înstantly conscious 
of breathing an air saturated with courage 
and the dogged détermination to endure. 
The men were ail reservists: that is to say, 
mostly married, and ail beyond the first 
fighting âge. For many months there has 
not been much active work along this 
front, no great adventure to rouse the 
blood and wing thé imagination: it has just 
been month after month of monotonous 
watching and holding on. And the soldiers' 
faces showed it: there was no light of heady 
enterprise in their eyes, but the look of 



126 FIGHTING FRANCE 

men who knew their job, had thought it 
over, and were there to hold theîr bit of 
France tîU the day of victory or extermina- 
tion. 

Meanwhile, they had made the best of 
the situation and tumed their quarters into 
a forest colony that would enchant any 
normal boy. Their village architecture was 
more elaborate than any we had yet seen. 
In the ColoneFs "dugouf a long table 
decked with lilacs and tulips wasspread 
for tea. In other cheery catacombs we 
found neat rows of bunks, mess-tables, siz- 
zling sauce-pans over kitchen-fires. Every- 
where were endless ingenuities in the way 
of camp-fumiture and household décora- 
tion. Farther down the road a path be- 
tween fir-boughs led to a hidden hospital, 
a marvel of underground compactness. 
While we chatted with the surgeon a sol- 
dier came in from the trenches: an elderly, 
bearded man, with a good average civilian 
face — the kind that one runs against by 



m LOBBAINE AND THE VOSGES 127 

hundreds in any French crowd. He had a 
scalp-woxmd whîch had just been dressed, 
and was very pale. The Colonel stopped to 
ask a few questions, and then, tuming to 
him, said: **Feeling rather better now?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Good. In a day or two you '11 be think- 
îng about going back to the trenches, eh ? '* 

" J *m going now, sir.** It was said qiiite 
simply, and received in the same way. 
"Oh, ail right," thé Colonel merely re- 
joined; but he laid his hand on the man's 
shoulder as we went out. 

Our next visit was to a sod-thatehed 
hut, "At the sign of the Ambulant Arti- 
sans,'* where two or three soldiers were 
modelling and chiselling aU kinds of trin- 
kets from the aluminium of enemy shells. 
One of the ambulant artisans was just fin- 
ishing a ring with beautifuUy modelled 
fauns' heads, another offered me a **Pick- 
elhaube" small enough for Mustard-seed's 
wear, but complète in every détail, and 



128 FIGHTING FRANCE 

inlaid with the bronze eagle from an Im- 
périal pfennig. There are many such ring- 
smiths among the privâtes at the front, 
and the severe, somewhat archaie design 
of their rings is a proof of the sureness of 
French taste; but the two we visited hap- 
pened to be Paris jewellers, for whom 
"artisan" was really too modest a pseu- 
donym. OflScers and men were evidently 
proud of their work, and as they stood 
hammering away in their cramped smithy, 
a red gleain Ughting up the intentness of 
their faces, they seemed to be beating out 
the cheerful rhythm of "I too will some- 
thing make, and joy in the making/' . . 

Up the hillside, in deeper shadow, was 
another little structure; a wooden shed 
with an open gable sheltering an altar 
with candies and flowers. Hère mass is 
said by one of the conscript priests of the 
régiment, while his congrégation kneel be- 
tween the fir-trunks, giving life to the old 
metaphor of the cathedral-forest, Near by 



IN LORRAINE ANÎ) THE VOSGES IfM) 

was the grave-yard, where day by day 
thèse quiet elderly men lay their com- 
rades, the pires de famille who don't go 
back. The care of thîs woodland cemetery 
îs left entirely to the soldiers, and they 
hâve spent treasures of piety on the in- 
scriptions and décorations of the graves. 
Fresh flowers are brought up from the 
valleys to cover them, and when some 
favourite comrade goes, the men scom- 
ing ephemeral tributes, club together to 
buy a monstrous indestructible wreath with 
emblazoned streamers. It was near the end 
of the aftemoon, and many soldiers were 
strolling along the paths between the 
graves. "It 's their favourite walk at this 
hour," the Colonel said. He stopped to 
look down on a grave smothered in beady 
tokens, the grave of the last pal to fall. 
"He was mentioned in the Order of the 
Day," the Colonel explained; and the 
group of soldiers standing near looked at 
us proudly» as if sharing their comrade's 



190 WGHTING FRANCE 

honour, and wanting to be sure that we 
understood the reason of theîr pride. • . 

"And now," saîd our Captain of Chas- 
seurs, "that you Ve seen the second-lîne 
trenches, what do you say to taking a look 
at thefirst?" 

We followed hîm to a point higher up 
the hîll, where we plunged înto a de^ 
ditch of red earth — the "bowel" leadîng 
to the first Unes. It cUmbed stiU higher, 
under the wet firs, and then, tuming, 
dipped over the edge and began to wind 
in sharp loops down the other side of the 
ridge. Down we serambled, single file, our 
chins on a level with the top of the pas- 
sage, the close green covert above us. 
The "bower* went twisting down more 
and more sharply into a deep ravine; and 
presently, at a bend, we came to a fir- 
thatched outlook, where a soldier stood 
with his back to us, his eye glued to a 
peep-hole in the wattled wall. Another 
tum, and another outlook; but hère it was 



IN LOBBAINE AND THE VOSGES 181 

ihe iron-rimmed eye of the mitrailleuse 
that stared across the ravine. By this time 
we were witliin a hundred yards or so of 
the German Unes, hidden, like ours, on 
the other side of the narrowing hollow; 
and as we stole down and down, the hush 
and seerecy of the scène, and the sensé of 
that imminent lurking hatred only a few 
branch-lengths away, seemed to fiU the 
silence with mysterious pulsations. Sud- 
denly a sharp noise broke on them: the rap 
of a rifle-shot against a tree-trunk a few 
yards ahead. 

Ah, the sharp-shooter," said our guide. 

No more talking, please — he 's over there, 
în a tree somewhere, and whenever he hears 
voices he fires. Some day we shall spot 
his tree.'* 

We went on în silence to a point where 
a few soldiers were sitting on a ledge of 
rock in a widening of the "bowel." They 
looked as quiet as if they had been waiting 
for their bocks before a Boulevard café. 






1S« FIGHTING FRANCE 

**Not beyond, please/* saîd the oflficer, 
holding me back; and I stopped. 

Hère we were, then, actually and lîter- 
ally in the first Unes ! The knowledge made 
one's heart tîck a litUe; but, except for 
another shot or two from our arboreal 
listener, and the motionless intentness of 
the soldier's back at the peep-hole, there 
was nothing to show that we were not a 
dozen miles away. 

Perhaps the thought occurred to our 
Captain of Chasseurs; for just as I was 
tuming back he said with his friendUest 
twinkle: "Do you want awfully to go a 
little farther? Well, then, come on/' 

We went past the soldiers sittîng on the 
ledge and stole down and down, to where 
the trees ended at the bottom of the ra- 
vine. The sharp-shooter had stopped firing, 
and nothing disturbed the leaîy silence but 
an intermittent drip of rain. We were at 
the end of the burrow, and the Captain 
signed to me that I might take a cautions 



IN LOBRAINE AND THE VOSGES 133 

peep round its corner. I looked out and 
saw a strip of intensely green meadow just 
under me» and a wooded cliff rising abruptly 
on its other side. That was ail. The wooded 
cliff swarmed with "them," and a few 
steps would hâve carried us across the in- 
terval; yet ail about us was silence, and 
the peace of the forest. Âgain, for a min- 
ute, I had the sensé of an all-pervading, 
invisible power of evil, a saturation of the 
whole landscape with some hidden vitriol 
of hâte. Then the reaction of unbelief set 
in, and I felt myself in a harmless ordi- 
nary glen, like a million others on an un- 
troubled earth. We tumed and began to 
climb again, loop by loop, up the "bowel" 
— we passed the loUing soldiers, the silent 
mitrailleuse, we came again to the watcher 
at his peep-hole. He heard us, let the 
officer pass, and tumed his head with a 
little sign of understanding. 
"Do you want to look down?" 
He moved a step away f rom his wîndow. 



1S4 HGHTING FRANCE 

The look-out projected over the ravine, 
raJdng its depths; and hère» with one's eye 
to the leaf-lashed hole, one saw at last . . . 
saw, at the bottom of the harmless glen» 
half way between cliflP and cliff, a grey 
uniform huddled in a dead heap. ''He 's 
been there for days: they can*t fetch hîm 
away," said the watcher, regluing hîs eye 
to the hole; and it was almost a relief to 
find it was after ail a tangible enemy 
hidden over there across the meadow. • • 

The Sun had set when we got back to 
our starting-point in the underground vil- 
lage. The chasseurs-à-pied were lounging 
along the roadside and standing in gossip- 
ing groups about the motor. It was long 
since they had seen faces from the other 
life, the life they had left nearly a year 
earlier and had not been allowed to go 
back to for a day; and under ail their jokes 
and good-humour their farewell had a 
tinge of wistfulness. But one felt that this 



m LORRAINE AND THE VOSGES 135 

fugitive remînder of a world they had put 
behind them would pass like a dream, and 
their minds revert without eflFort to the one 
reality: the business of holding their bit of 
France. 

It is hard to say why this sensé of the 
French soldier's single-mindedness is so 
strong in ail who hâve had even a glimpse 
of the front; perhaps it is gathered less 
from what the men say than f rom the look 
in their eyes. Even while they are accept- 
ing cigarettes and exchanging trench-jokes, 
the look is there; and when one cornes on 
them unaware it is there also. In the dusk 
of the forest that look followed us down 
the mountain; and as we skirted the edge 
of the ravine between the armies, we felt 
that on the far side of that dividing Une 
were the men who had made the war, and 
on the near side the n^en who had been 
made by it. 






• >4 



/ 



IN THE NOBTH 



" >r 



IN THE NORTH 

June 19th, 1915. 
/^N thé way from Doullens to Mon- 
^^ treuîl-sur-Mer, on a shinîng summer 
aftemoon. A road between dusty hedges, 
choked, Kterally strangled, by a torrent of 
westward-streamîng troops of ail arms. 
Every few minutes there would corne a 
break în the flow, and our motor would 
wrîggle through, advance a few yards and be 
stopped agaîn by a wîdening of the tor- 
rent that januned us înto the ditch and 
splashed a dazzle of dust into our eyes. 
The dust was stîflîng — but through it, what 
a sîght ! 

Standing up in the car and looking back, 
we watched the river of war wind toward 
us. Cavalry, artillery, lancers, infantry, 
sappers and mîners, trench-diggers, road- 
makers, stretcher-bearers, they swept on as 

139 






140 MGHTING FRANCE 

smoothly as if in holiday order. Through 
the dust, the sun pîcked out the flash of 
lances and the gloss of chargers' flanks, 
flushed rows and rows of detennined faces» 
found the least touch of gold on faded 
unifonns, sîlvered the sad grey of mitra- 
illeuses and munition waggons. Close as 
the men were, they seemed allegorically 
splendid: as if, under the arch of the 
sunset, we had been watching the whole 
French army ride straight into glory. . . 

Finally we left the last detachment be- 
hind, and had the country to ourselves. 
The disfigiu^ment of war has not touched 
the fields of Artois. The thatched farm- 
houses dozed in gardens full of roses and 
hollyhocks, and the hedges above the duck- 
ponds were weîghed down with layérs of 
elder-blossom. On ail sides wheat-fields 
skirted with woodland went biUowing away 
under the breezy light that seemed to carry 
a breath of the Atlantic on its beams. The 
road ran up and down as if our motor were 



m THE NORTH 141 

a ship on a deep-sea swell; and such a sensé 
of space and light was în the distances, 
such a veil of beauty over the whole 
world» that the vision of that army on the 
move grew more and more fabulons and 
epic. 

The Sun had set and the sea-twilight 
was rolling in when we dipped down from 
the town of Montreuil to the valley be- 
low, where the towers of an ancient abbey- 
church rise above terraced orchards. The 
gâtes at the end of the avenue were thrown 
open, and the motor drove into a monas- 
tery court full of box and roses. Everything 
was sweet and seduded in this mediœval 
place; and from the shadow of cloisters 
and arched passages groups of nuns flut- 
tered ont» nuns ail black or ail white, gliding, 
peering and standing at gaze. It was as if we 
had plunged back into a century to whîch 
motors were unknown and our car had been 
some monster cast up from a Barbary ship* 
wreck; and the startled attitudes of thèse 



142 HGHTING FRANCE 

holy women dîd crédit to tlieîr sensé of tlie 
picturesque; for the Abbey of Neuville îs 
now a gréât Belgian liospital, and such 
monsters mnst frequently intrude on its 
seclusion. • . 

Sunset» and siunmer dusk» and the moon. 
TJnder the monastery Windows a walléd 
garden with stone pavilions at the angles 
and the drip of a fountain. Below it» tiers 
of orchard-terraces f ading into a great moon- 
conf used plain that might be either fields or 
sea* • • 

June 20th. 
Today our way ran northeast, through 
a landscape so English that there was no 
incongruity in the sprinkling of khaki 
along the road. Even the villages look Eng- 
lish: the same plnm-red brick of tîdy self- 
respectîng houses, neat, demure and freshly 
painted, the gardens ail bursting with 
flowers, the landscape hedgerowed and wil- 
lowed and fed with water-courses, the peo- 



m THE NORTH 143 

ple's faces square and pink and honest, and 
the sîgns over tlie shops in a language hall 
way between Englîsh and German. Only 
the architecture of the towns is French, of 
a reserved and robust northem type, but 
unmistakably in the same great tradition. 
War still seemed so far off that one had 
time for thèse digressions as the motor 
flew on over the undulating miles. But 
presently we came on an aviation camp 
spreading its sheds over a wide plateau. 
Hère the khaki throng was thicker and 
the famiUar mihtary stir enUvened the 
landscape. A few miles farther, and we 
foxmd ourselves in what was seemîngly a 
big English town oddly grouped about a 
nucleus of French churches. This was St. 
Omer, grey, spacious, coldly clean in its 
Sxmday emptiness. At the street crossings 
EngUsh sentries stood mechanically direct- 
ing the absent traflSc with gestures f amiliar 
to Piccadilly; and the signs of the British 
Red Çross and St. John's Ambulance himg 



144 FIGHTING FRANCE 

on club-like façades that mîght almost hâve 
claîmed a home in Pall Mail. 

The Englishness of things was empha- 
sized, as we passed out through the suburbs, 
by the look of the crowd on the canal 
bridges and along the roads. Every nation 
has its own way of loîtering, and there is 
nothing so unlike the French way as the 
English. Even if ail thèse tall youths had 
not been in khaki, and the girls with them 
so pink and countrified, one would instantly 
hâve recognized the passive northem way of 
letting a holiday soak in instead of squeez- 
ing out its juices with feverish fingers. 

When we tumed westward from St. 
Orner, across the same paistures and water- 
courses, we were faced by two hills stand- 
ing up abruptly out of the plain; and on 
the top of one rose the walls and towers 
of a compact Uttle mediœval town. As we 
took the windings that led up to it a sensé of 
Italy began to penetrate the persistent 
impression of being somewhere near the 



m THE NORTH 145 

English Channel. The town we y^ere ap- 
proaching might hâve been a queer dream- 
blend of Winchelsea and San Gimignano; 
but when we entered the gâtes of Cassel we 
were in a place so întensely itself that ail 
analogies dropped out of mind. 

It was not surprising to leam from the 
guide-book that Cassel has the most ex- 
tensîve view of any town in Europe: one 
felt at once that it differed in ail sorts of 
marked and self-assertive ways from every 
other town, and would be almost sure to 
hâve the best things going in every Une. 
And the Une of an ilUmitable horizon is 
exactly the best to set off its own quaint 
compactness. 

We found our hôtel in the most perfect 
of Uttle market squares, with a Renais- 
sance town-haU on one side, and on the 
other a miniature Spanish palace with a 
front of rosy brick adomed by grey carv- 
ings. The square was crowded with Eng- 
Ush army motors and beautiful prancing 



146 FIGHTING FRANCE 

chargers; and tbe restaurant of the inn 
(which bas the luck to face the pînk and 
grey palace) swarmed with khaki tea- 
drinkers tuming indiffèrent shoulders to 
the wîdest view in Europe. It is one of 
the most détestable things about war that 
everything connected with it, except the 
death and ruin that resuit, is such a 
heightening of life, so visually stimulating 
and absorbing. "It was gay and terrible,'* 
is the phrase forever recurring in "War 
and Peace"; and the gaiety of war was 
everywhere in Cassel, transforming the 
lifeless Uttle town into a romantic stage- 
setting full of the flash of arms and the 
virile animation of yoxmg faces. 

From the park on top of the hill we 
looked down on another picture. Ail about 
us was the plain, its distant rim merged 
in northem sea-mist; and through the 
mist, in the glitter of the aftemoon sun, 
fàr-off towns and shadowy towers lay 
steeped, as it seemed, in summer quiet. 



IN THE NORTH 147 

For a moment, while we looked» the vision 
of wax shrivelled up like a painted veil; 
then we caught the names pronouneed by 
a group of English soldiers leaning over 
the parapet at our side. "That's Dun- 
kerque" — one of them pointed it out 
with his pipe — "and there's Poperinghe, 
just nnder us; that's Fumes beyond, and 
Ypres and Dixmude, and Nîeuport. . ." 
And at the mention of those names the 
scène grew dark again, and we felt the 
passing of the Angel to whom was given 
the Key of the Bottomless Pit. 

That night we went up once more to 
tihe rock of Cassel. The moon was full, 
and as civiUans are not allowed out alone 
after dark a staff-officer went with us to 
show us the view f rom the roof of the dis- 
used Casino on top of the rock. It was 
the queerest of sensations to push open a 
glazed door and find ourselves in a spec- 
tral painted room with soldiers dozing in 
the moonUght on poUshed floors, their 



148 FIGHTING FRANCE 

kits stacked on the gaming tables. We 
passed through a big vestibule among more 
soldiers lounging in the half-light, and up a 
long staircase to the roof where a watcher 
challenged us and then let us go to the 
edge of the parapet. Directly below lay the 
unlit mass of the town. To the northwest 
a single sharp hill, the "Mont des Cats/* 
stood out against the sky; the rest of 
the horizon was unbroken, and floating in 
nusty moonlight. The outline of the ruined 
towns had vanished and peace seemed to 
hâve won back the world. But as we stood 
there a red flash started out of the mist 
far off to the northwest; then another and 
another flickered up at différent points of 
the long curve. "Luminous bombs thrown 
up along the lines," our guide explaîned; 
and just then, at still another point a 
white light opened like a tropical flower, 
spread to full bloom and drew itself back 
into the night. "A flare,*' we were told; 
and another white flower bloomed out far- 



IN THE NORTH 149 

ther down. Below us, the roofs of Cassel 

0, 

slept their provincial sleep, the moonlight 
picking out every leaf in the gardens; while 
beyond, those infernal flowers continued to 
open and shut along the curve of death. 

June 21st. 
On the road from Cassel to Poperinghe. 
Heat, dust, crowds, confusion, ail the sor- 
did shabby rear-view of war. The road 
running across the plain between white- 
po\rtlered hedges was ploughed up by 
numberless motor-vans, supply-waggons 
and Red Cross ambulances. Labouring 
through between them came detachments 
of British artillery, clattering gun-car- 
riages» straight young figures on glossy 
horses, long Phidian lines of youths so 
ingenuously fair that one wondered how 
they could hâve looked on the Médusa 
face of war and lived. Men and beasts, in 
spite of the dust, were as fresh and sleek as 
îf they had corne from a bath; and every- 



150 FIGHTING FRANCE 

where along the waysîde were improvîsed 
camps, wîtli tents made of waggon-covers, 
where the ceaseless indomitable work of 
eleaning was being carried out in ail its 
searehing détails. Shirts were drying on 
elder-bushes, kettles boiling over gypsy 
fires, men shaving, blacking their boots, 
eleaning their guns, nibbing down their 
horses, greasing their saddles, polishing 
their stirrups and bits: on ail sides a 
gênerai cheery struggle against the pre- 
vailing dust, discomfort and disorder. Hère 
and there a young soldier leaned against a 
garden paling to talk to a girl among the 
hoUyhocks, or an older soldier initiated 
a group of children into some mystery 
of military housekeeping; and every where 
were the same signs of friendly inarticulate 
understanding with the ownersT of the fields 
and gardens. 

From the thronged high-road we passed 
into the emptiness of deserted Poperinghe, 
and out again on the way to Ypres. Beyond 



m THE NORl'H ^ 151 

the flats and wind-mîlls to our left were the 
invisible German Unes, and the staff-officer 
who was with us leaned f orward to caution 
our chauffeur: "No tooting between hère 
and Ypres." There was still a good deal 
of movement on the road, though it was 
less crowded with troops than near Pope- 
ringhe; but as we passed through the last 
village and approached the low line of 
houses ahead, the silence and emptiness 
widened about us. That low line was Ypres; 
every monument that marked it, that gave 
it an individual outline, is gone. It is a 
town without a profile. 

The motor slipped through a suburb of 
small brick houses and stopped under cover 
of some sKghtly taller buildings. Another 
military motor waited there, the chauffeur 
relic-hunting in the gutted houses. 

We got out and walked toward the 
centre of the Cloth Market. We had seen 
evacuated towns — Verdim, Badonviller, 
Raon-rEtape — but we had seen no empti- 



152 FIGHTING FRANCE 

ness like this. Not a human being was in 
the streets. Endiess lines of hoiises looked 
down on us from vacant Windows. Our 
footsteps echoed like the tramp of a crowd» 
our lowered voices seemed to shout. In 
one Street we came on tibree English sol* 
diers who were carrying a piano out of a 
liouse and lifting it onto a hand-cart. 
They stopped to stare at us, and we stared 
back. It seemed an âge since we had seen 
a living being! One of the soldiers scram- 
bled into the cart and tapped out a tune 
on the cracked key-board, and we ail 
laughed with reUef at the f oolish noise. . . 
Then we walked on and were alone again. 

We had seen other ruined towns, but 
none like this. The towns of Lorraine were 
blown up, bumt down, deliberately erased 
from the earth. At worst they are like 
stone-yards, at best like Pompeii. But 
Ypres has been bombarded to death, and 
the outer walls of its houses are still stand- 
ing, so that it présents the distant sem- 



IN THE NORTH 153 

blance of a lîvîng city, while near by it 
îs seen to be a disembowelled corpse. Ev- 
ery wîndow-pane îs smashed, nearly every 
building iinroofed, and some house-fronts 
are slîced clean off, with the différent sto- 
ries exposed, as if for the stage-setting of a 
farce. In thèse exposed interiors the poor 
little household gods shiver and blink like 
owls surprised în a hollow tree. A hundred 
signs of intimate and humble tastes, of 
humdrum pursuits, of family association, 
cling to the unmasked walLs. Whiskered 
photographs fade on moming-glory wall- 
papers, plaster saints pine under glass bells, 
antimacassars droop from plush sofas, yel- 
lowing diplomas display their seals on office 
walls. It was ail so still and familiar that 
it seemed as if the people for whom thèse 
things had a meaning might at any moment 
corne back and take up their daily business. 
And then — crash! the guns began, slam- 
ming out volley after voUey ail along the 
English lines, and the poor frail web of 



1S4 PIGHTING FRANCE 

things that had made up the lives of a van- 
ished city-fuU hung dangling before us in 
that deathly blast. 

We had just reached the square before 
the Cathedral when the cannonade began, 
and its roar seemed to build a roof of 
iron over the glorious ruins of Ypres. The 
smgular distinction of the city is that it is 
destroyed but not abased. The walLs of 
the Cathedral, the long bulk of the Cloth 
Market, still lift themselves above the 
market place with a majesty that seems 
to silence compassion. The sight of those 
façades, so proud in death, recalled a 
phrase used soon after the f ail of Liège by 
Belgiiun's Foreign Minister — "ia Belgique 
ne regrette rien '' — which ought some day to 
serve as the motto of the renovated city. 

We were tuming to go when we heard 
a whirr overhead, foUowed by a voUey of 
mitrailleuse. High up in the blue, over the 
centre of the dead city, flew a German aéro- 
plane; and ail about it hundreds of white 



m THE NORTH 155 

shrapnel tufts burst out în the summer sky 
lîke the mîraculous snow-fall of Italian le- 
gend. Up and up they flew, on the traîl of 
the Taube, and on flew the Taube, faster 
still, till quany and pack were lost in mîst, 
and the barkîng of the mitrailleuse died out. 
So we left Ypres to the death-silence in 
which we had found her. 

The afternoon carrîed us back to Pope- 
ringhe, where I was boimd on a quest 
for lace-cushions of the spécial kind re- 
quired by our Flemish refugees. The model 
is unobtainable in France, and I had been 
told-T-with few and vague indications — 
that I might find the cushions in a certain 
couvent of the city . But in which ? 

Poperinghe, though httle injured, is al- 
most empty. In its tidy désolation it 
looks like a town on which a wicked en- 
chanter has laid a spell. We roamed from 
quarter to quarter, himting for some one 
to show us the way to the couvent I was 
looking for, till at last a passer-by led us 



156 FIGHTING FRANCE 

to a door whîch seemed the rîght one. 
At our knock the bars were drawn and 
a cloîstered face looked out. No, there 
were no cushioiËs there; and the nun had 
never heard of the order we named. But 
there were the Pénitents, the Bénédic- 
tines — we might try. Our guide offered to 
show us the way and we went on. From 
one or two Windows, wondering heads 
looked out and vanished; but the streets 
were hfeless. At last we came to a cou- 
vent where there were no nuns left, but 
where, the caretaker told us, there were 
cushions — a great many. He led us through 
pale blue passages, up cold stairs, through 
rooms that smelt of linen and lavender. 
We passed a chapel wîth plaster saints in 
white niches above paper flowers. Every- 
thing was cold and bare and blank: like 
a mind from which memory has gone. 
We came to a class room with lines of 
empty benches facing a blue-mantled Vir- 
gin; and hère, on the floor, lay rows and 



IN THE NORTH 157 

rows of lace-cushions^ On each a bit of 
lace had been begun — and there they had 
been dropped when nuns and pupils fied. 
They had not been left în disorder: the 
rows had been laid out evenly, a handker- 
chief thrown over each cushion. And that 
orderly arrest of lîfe seemed sadder than 
any scène of disarray. It symbolized the 
senseless paralysîs of a whole natîon's ac- 
tîvities. Hère were a houseful of women 
and children, yesterday engaged în a use- 
ful task and now aîmlessly astray over the 
earth. And in hundreds of such houses, 
in dozens, in hundreds of open towns, 
the hand of time had been stopped, the 
heart of life had ceased to beat, ail the 
currents of hope and happiness and in- 
dustry been choked — not that some great 
military end might be gained, or the 
length of the war ciu*tailed, but that, 
wherever the shadow of Grermany falls, ail 
things should wîther at the root. 
The same sight met us everywhere that 



158 FIGHTING FRANCE 

altemoon. Over Fumes and Beigues, and 
ail the little intermediate villages, the 
evîl shadow lay. Grermany had willed that 
thèse places should die, and wherever her 
bombs could not reach her malédiction 
bad carried. Only Biblical lamentation 
can convey a vision of this life-drained 
land. **Your coimtry is desolate; your 
cities are bumed with fire; your land, 
strangers devour it in your présence, and 
it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers." 
Late in the af temoon we came to Dun- 
kerque, lying peacefully between its har- 
bour and canals. The bombardment of the 
previous month had emptied it, and though 
no signs of damage were visible the same 
spellbound air lay over everj'^thing. As we 
sat alone at tea in the hall of the hôtel on 
the Place Jean Bart, and looked out on 
the silent square and its lifeless shops and 
cafés, some one suggested that the hôtel 
would be a convenient centre for the ex- 
cursions we had planned, and we decided 



m THE NORTH 159 

to retum there the next evening. Then we 
motored back to CasseL 

June 22nd. 

My first waking thought was : " How tîme 
flîeg ! It must be the Fourteenth of July !" 
I knew ît could not be the Fourth of that 
specially commemorative month, because 
I was just awake enough to be sure I was 
not in America; and the only other event 
to justify such a terrifie clatter was the 
French national anniversary. I sat up and 
Kstened to the popping of guns till a com- 
pléter sensé of reality stole over me, and I 
realized that I was in the înn of the Wild 
Man at Cassel, and that it was not the 
fourteenth of July but the twenty-second 
of June. 

Then, what — ? A Taube, of course ! 
And ail the guns in the place were crack- 
îng at it ! By the time this mental process 
was complète, I had scrambled up and hur- 
ried downstau-s and, unbolting the heavy 



160 FIGHTING FRANCE 

doors, had rushed oui into the square. It 
was about four in the moming, the heaven- 
liest moment of a summer dawn, and in 
spite of the tumult Cassel still apparently 
slept. Only a few soldiers stood in the 
square, looking up at a drif t of white cloud 
behind which — they averred — a Taube 
had just slipped out of sight. Cassel was 
evîdently used to Taubes, and I had the 
sensé of having overdone my excitement 
and not being exactly in time; so after gaz- 
ing a moment at the white cloud I slunk 
back into the hôtel, barred the door and 
mounted to my room. At a window on the 
stairs I paused to look out over the sloping 
roofs of the town,.the gardens, the plain; 
and suddenly thère was another crash and 
a drift of white smoke blew up from the 
fruit-trees just under the windok ït was 
a last shot at the fugitive, from a gun 
hidden in one of those quiet provincial 
gardens between the houses; and its se- 
cret présence there was more startling than 



IN THE NORTH 161 

ail the clatter of mîtrailleiises from the 
rock. 

Silence and sleep came down agaîn on 
Cassel; but an hour or two later the hush 
was broken by a roar like the last trump. 
Thîs time it was no question of mitrai- 
lleuses. The Wild Man rocked on its base, 
and every pane in my Windows beat a 
tattoo. What was that incredible unim- 
agined sound ? Why, it could be nothing, 
of course, but the voice of the big siege- 
gun of Dixmude! Five times, while I was 
dressing, the thimder shook my windows, 
and the air was fiUed with a noise that 
may be compared — if the human imagina- 
tion can stand the strain — to the simul- 
taneous closing of ail the iron shop-shutters 
in the world. The odd part was that, as far 
as the Wild Man and its inhabitants were 
concemed, no visible effects resulted, and 
dressing, packing and coffee-drinking went 
on comf ortably in the strange parenthèses 
between the roars. 



162 FIGHTING FRANCE 

We set oflF early for a neîghbounng 
Head-quarters, and it was not tîll we 
tnmed out of the gâtes of Cassel that we 
came on sîgns of the bombardment: the 
sma^g of a gas-house and the convert- 
îng of a eabbage-field into a crater which, 
for some tune to corne, will spare photog- 
raphers the trouble of climbing Vesuvîus. 
There was a certain consolation in the dis- 
crepancy between the noise and the damage 
donc. 

At Head-quarters we leamed more of 
the nioming's incidents. Dimkerque, it 
appeared, had first been visited by the 
Taube which aftçrward came to take the 
range of Cassel; and the big gun of Dix- 
mude had then tumed ail its fury on the 
French sea-port. The bombardment of 
Dimkuerque was still going on; and we 
were asked, and in fact bidden, to give up 
our plan of going there for the night. 

After luncheon we tumed north, toward 
the dîmes. The villages we drove through 



IN THE NORTH 163 

were ail evacuated, some quite lîfeless» 
others occupîed by troops. Presently we 
came to a group of miUtary motors dra^ 
up by the roadside, and a field black wîth 
wheelîng troops. "Admirai Ronarc'h!" our 
companion from Head-quarters exclaimed; 
and we understood that we had had the 
good luck to corne on the hero of Dixmude 
în the act of reviewing the marine fusiliers 
and territorial whose magnificent défense 
of last October gave that much-besieged 
town another lease of glory. 

We stopped the motor and climbed to a 
ridge above the field. A high wind was 
blowing, bringing with it the booming of 
the guns along the front. A sun half-veiled 
in sand-dust shone on pale meadows, sandy 
flats, grey wind-mills. The scène was de- 
serted, except for the handful of troops 
deploying before the officers on the edge 
of the field. Admirai Ronarc'h, white- 
gloved and in full-dress uniform, stood a 
little in advance, a young naval officer at 



164 FIGHTING FRANCE 

his side. He had just been distributing 
décorations to his fusiliers and territorîals, 
and they were marching past him, flags 
flying and bugles playing. Every one of 
those men had a record of heroism» and 
every face in those ranks had looked on 
horrors unnameable. They had lest Dix- 
mude — for a while — but they had gained 
great glory, and the inspiration of their 
epic résistance had corne from the quiet 
officer who stood there, straight and grave» 

in his white gloves and gala uniform. 

■ ,/ 

One must hâve béen in the North to 
know something of the tié that esdsts, in 
this région of bitter and continuons fight- 
ing, between officers and soldiers. The 
feeling of the chief s is almost one of vén- 
ération for their men; that of the soldiers» 
a kind of half-humorous tendemess for 
the officers who hâve faced such odds with 
them. This mutual regard reveals itself 
in a hundred undefinable ways; but its 
f ullest expression is in the tone with which 



IN THE NORTH 105 

the commanding ofBcers speak thé two 
words oftenest on theîr lîps: "My men." 

The little revîew over, we went on to 
Admirai Ronare'h's quarters m the dunes, 
and thence, after a brief vîsit» to another 
brigade Head-quarters. We were m a région 
of sandy hilloeks feathered by tamarisk» 
and interspersed witb poplar groves slant- 
ing like wheat in the wind. Between thèse 
meagre thickets the roofs of seaside bun- 
galows showed above the dunes; and be- 
fore one of thèse we stopped, and were 
led into a sîtting-room full of maps and 
aéroplane photographs. One of the ofBcers 
of the brigade telephoned to ask if the way 
was clear to Nieuport; and the answer was 
that we might go on. 

Our road ran through the "Bois Tri- 
angulaire/' a bit of woodland exposed to 
constant shelling. Half the poor spindling 
trees were down, and patches of blackened 
undergrowth and ragged hollows marked 
the path of the shells. If the trees of a 



166 FIGHTING FRANCE 

cannonaded wood are of strong înland 
growth tlieîr fallen trunks hâve the majesty 
of a ruined temple; but there was some- 
thing humanly pitif ul îb the frail trunks 
of the Bois Triangulaire, lying there like 
slaughtered rows of immature troops. 

A few miles more brought us to Nieu- 
port, most lamentable of the victim towns. 
It is not empty as Ypres is empty: troops 
are quartered in the cellars, and at the 
approach of our motor knots of cheerful 
zouaves came swarming out of the groimd 
like ants. But Ypres is majestic in death, 
poor Nieuport gruesomely comîc. About 
its splendid nucleus of mediseval architec- 
ture a modem town had grown up; and 
nothing stranger can be pictured than the 
contrast between the streets of flimsy 
houses, twisted like curl-papers, and the 
ruins of the Gothic Cathedral and the 
Cloth Market. It is like passing from a 
smashed toy to the survival of a prehistoric 
cataclysm. 



IN THE NORTH 167 

Modem Nieuport seems to hâve died in 
a colle. No less homely image expresses 
the contractions and contortions of the 
houses reaching ont the appeal of their 
desperate chinmey-pots and agonized gir- 
ders. There is one view along the exterior 
of the town like nothing else on the war- 
front. On the left, a Une of palsied houses 
leads up like a string of crutch-propped beg- 
gars to the mighty min of the Templars' 
Tower; on the right the flats reach away 
to the almost imperceptible humps of 
masoniy that were once Ihe villages of St. 
Georges, Ramscappelle, Pervyse. And over 
ît ail the incessant crash of the gnns 
stretches a sounding-board of steel. 

In front of the cathedral a German 
sheU has dug a crater thirty feet across, 
overhung by splintered tree-trunks, bumt 
shrubs, vague mounds of rubbish; and a 
few steps beyond lies the peacefullest 
spot in Nieuport, the grave-yard where 
the zouaves hâve buried their comrades. 



168 FIGHTING FRANCE 

The dead are laid in rows under the flank 
of the cathedral, and on their carefully 
set grave-stones hâve been placed collec- 
tions of pious images gathered from the 
ruined houses. Some of the most privileged 
are guarded by colonies of plaster saints 
and Virgîns that cover the whole slab; and 
over the handsomest Virgins and the most 
gaily coloured saints the soldiers hâve 
placed the glass bells that once protected 
the parlonr clocks and wedding-wreaths 
in the same houses. 

From sad Nieuport we motored on to 
a little seaside colony where gaiety pre- 
vails. Hère the big hôtels and the ad- 
joining villas along the beach are filled 
with troops just back from the trenches: 
it is one of the "rest cures" of the front. 
When we drove up, the régiment "au 
repos" was assembled in the wide sandy 
space between the principal hôtels, and 
in the centre of the jolly crowd the band 
was playing. The Colonel and his ofBcers 



IN THE NORTH 169 

stood listenîng to the music, and presently 
the soldiers broke ÎBto the wild "chan- 
son des zouaves" of the ^th zouaves. 

It was the strangest of sights to watch 
that throng of dusky meny faces under 
their red fezes agamst the background 
of sunless northem sea. When the music 
was over some one with a kodak sug- 
gested "a group": we struck a collective 
attitude on one of the hôtel terraces» and 
just as the caméra was beîng aimed at us 
the Colonel tumed and drew into the 
foreground a little grinning pock-marked 
soldier. " He 's just been decorated — he 'a 
got to be in the group." A gênerai ex- 
clamation of assent from the other offîcers» 
and a protest from the hero: "Me? Why, 
my ugly mug will smash the plate!'' But 

it didn't 

Beluctantly we tumed from this în- 
terval in the day's sad round» and took 
the road to La Panne. Dust» dunes, de- 
serted villages: my memory keeps no more 



170 FIGHTING FRANCE 

definite vision of the run. But at sunset 
we came on a big seaside colony stretched 
out above the longest beach I ever saw: 
along the sea-front, an esplanade bor- 
dered by the usual foolish villas, and be- 
hind it a single street fiUed with hôtels 
and shops. AU the life of thé désert région 
we had traversed seemed to hâve taken 
refuge at La Panne. The long street was 
swarming with throngs of dark-uniformed 
Belgian soldiers, every shop seemed to be 
doing a thriving trade, and the hôtels 
looked as full as beehives. 

June 23rd La Panne. 
The particular hive that has taken us 
in is at the extrême end of the esplan- 
ade, where asphalt and iron railings lapse 
abruptly into sand and sea-grass. When 
I looked out of my window this moming 
I saw only the endless stretch of brown 
sand against the grey roll of the Northern 
Océan, and, on a crest of the dunes, the 



IN THE NORTH 171 

figure of a solitary sentinel. But presently 
there was a sound of martial music, and 
long lines of troops came marching along 
thé esplanade and down to the beach. 
The sands stretched away to east and west, 
a great "field of Mars" on whîch an army 
could hâve manœuvred; and the momîng 
exercises of cavalry and inîantiy began. 
Against the brown beach the régiments in 
their dark uniforms looked as black as 
silhouettes; and the cavalry galloping by 
in single file suggested a black frieze of 
warriors encircling the dun^îoloured flanks 
of an Etruscan vase. For hours thèse long- 
drawn-out movements of troops went on, 
to the wail of bugles, and imder the eye 
of the lonely sentinel on the sand-crest; 
then the soldiers poured back into the 
town, and La Panne was once more a busy 
conunon-place bain-de-mer. The common- 
placeness, however, was only on the sur- 
face; for as one walked along the esplanade 
one discovered that the town had become a 



172 FIGHTING FRANCE 

citadel, and that ail the doll's-house villas 
wîth their sîDy gables and sillier names — 
"Seaweed," "The Sea-guU," "Mon Repos," 
and the rest — were really a continuons 
Une of barracks swarming with Belgian 
troops. In Ibe main slreet there were hun- 
dreds of soldiers, pottering along in couples, 
chatting in groups, romping and wrestling 
like a crowd of school-boys, or bargaining 
in the shops for shell-work souvenirs and 
sets of post-cards; and between the dark- 
green and crimson uniforms was a fréquent 
sprinkling of khaki, with the occasional 
pale blue of a French oflScer's tunic. 

Before luncheon we motored over to 
Dunkerque, The road nins along the ca- 
nal, between grass-flats and prospérons vil- 
lages. No signs of war were noticeable 
except on the road, which was crowded 
with motor vans, ambulances and troops. 
The walls and gâtes of Dimkerque rose 
before us as calm and undisturbed as when 
we entered the town the day before yes- 



A Street at Nleuport. 



IN THE NORTH 173 

terday. But within the gaies we were in a 
désert. The bombardment had ceased the 
previous evenîng, but a death-hush lay on 
the town. Every house was shuttered and 
the streets were empty. We drove to the 
Place Jean Bart, where two days ago we 
sat at tea in the hall of the hôtel. Now there 
was not a whole pane of glass in the Win- 
dows of the square, Ihe doors of the hôtel 
were closed, and every now and then some 
one came out carrying a basketful of plas- 
ter from fallen ceilings. The whole surface 
of the square was Uterally paved with bits 
of glass from the hundreds of broken Win- 
dows, and at the foot of David's statue of 
Jean Bart, just where our motor had stood 
whîle we had tea, the siege-gun of Dix- 
mude had scooped out a hollow as big as 
the crater at Nieuport. 

Though not a house on the square was 
touched, the scène was one of unmitigated 
désolation. It was the first time we had 
seen the raw wounds of a bombardment. 



174 FIGHTING FRANCE 

and ihe freshness of the havoc seemed to 
accentuate îts cruelty. We wandered down 
the Street behînd the hôtel to the gracef ul 
Gothîc church of St, Eloî, of which one 
aîsie had been shattered; then, tumîng an- 
other corner, we came on a poor bourgeois 
house that had had îts whole front tom 
away. The squalid révélation of caved-în 
floors, smashed wardrobes, dangling bed- 
steads, heaped-up blankets, topsy-turvy 
chairs and stoves and wash-stands was far 
more painful than the sight of the wounded 
church. St. Eloi was draped in the dignity 
of martyrdom, but the poor Uttle house re- 
minded one of some shy humdrum person 
suddenly exposed in the glare of a great 
misfortune. 

A few people stood în clusters looking up 
at the ruins, or strayed aimlessly about the 
streets. Not a loud word was heard. The 
air seemed heavy with the suspended breath 
of a great city's activities: the moumful 
hush of Dunkerque was even more oppres- 



IN THE NORTH 175 

sive than the death-sîlence of Ypres, But 
when we came back to the Place Jean Bart 
the unbreakable human spîrît had begun 
to redssert îtself • A handfid of chîldren were 
playîng în the bottom of the crater, col- 
lectîng "spécimens" of glass and splîntered 
brick; and about îts rim the market-people, 
quîetly and as a matter of course, were set- 
ting up their wooden stalls. In a few min- 
utes the signs of Gemaan havoc would 
be hidden behind stacks 6t crockery and 
household utensils, and some of the pale 
women we had left în moumful contem- 
plation of the ruîns woidd be bargaînîng 
as sharply as ever for a sauce-pan or a 
butter-tub. Not once but a hundred tîmes 
has the attitude of the average French 
civilian near the front reminded me of the 
gallant cry of Calanthea in The Brohen 
Heart: "Let me die smiling!*' I should 
hâve liked to stop and spend ail I had in 
the market of Dunkerque, . . 

Ail the aftemoon we wandered about 



176 HGHTING FRANCE 

La Panne. The exercises of tlie troops 
had begun agam;<and tlie deployîng of 

> 

tliose endless black Unes along the beach 
was a sîght of the strangest beauty. The 
Sun was veiled, and heavy surges roUed in 
under a northerly gale. Toward evenîng 
the sea tumed to cold tînts of jade and 
pearl and tamisbed silver. Far down the 
beach a mysterîous fleet of fîshing boats 
was drawn up on the sand, with black 
sails beUying in the wind; and the black 
riders galloping by might hâve landed 
from them, and been riding into the sun- 
set out of some wild northem legend. 
Presently a knot of buglers took up their 
stand on the edge of the sea, facing in- 
ward, their feet in the surf, and began to 
play; and their call was like the call of 
Roland's hom, when he biew it down the 
pass against the heathen. On the sand- 
' crest below my window the lonely sentinel 
still watched. • • 



IN THE NORTH 177 

June 24th. 
It is like coming down from the moun- 
tains to leave the front. I never had the 
f eelîng more strongly than when we passed 
out of Belgîum thîs aftemoon. I had ît 
most strongly as we drove by a cluster of 
villas standing apart in a stérile région of 
sea-grass and sand. In one of those villas 
for nearly a year, two hearts at the high- 
est pitch of hiunan constançy hâve held 
up a light to the world. It is impossible 
to pass that house without a sensé of awe. 
Because of the light that comes from it, 
dead faiths hâve come to life, weak con- 
victions hâve grown strong, fiery impulses 
hâve tumed to long endurance, and long 
endurance has kept the fire of impulse. In 
the harbour of New York there is a pom- 
pons statue of a goddess with a torch, 
designated M "Liberty enUghtening the 
World." It seems as though the title on 
her pedestal might well, for the time, be 



178 FIGHTING FRANCE 

transferred to the lintel of that yilla in 
the dunes. 

On leavîng St. Orner we took a short 
eut southward across roUîng country. It 
was a happy accident that caused us to 
leave the main road, for presently, over the 
crest of a hill, we saw surging toward us 
a mighty movement of British and Indian 
troops. A great bath of silver sunlight lay 
on the wheat-fields, the clumps of woodland 
and the hilly blue horizon, and in that 
slanting radiance the cavahy rode toward 
us, régiment af ter régiment of sKm turbaned 
Indians, with deUcate proud faces like 
the faces of Princes in Persian miniatures. 
Then came a long train of artillery; splen^ 
did horses, clattering gun-carriages, clear- 
faced EngUsh youths galloping by aU 
aglow in the sunset. The stream of them 
seemed never-ending. Now and then it 
was checked by a train of ambulances 
and supply-waggons, or caught and con- 



IN THE NORTH 179 

gested in the crooked streets of a village 
where children and giris had corne out mth 
bunches of flowers, and bakers were selling 
liot loaves to the sutlers; and when we 
had extrîcated our motor from tbe crowd, 
and climbed another hill, we came on an- 
other cavalcade surging tpward us through 
the wheat-fields. For over an hour the 
procession poured by, so like and yet so 
unlike the French division we had met on 
the move as we went north a few days 
ago; so that we seemed to hâve passed to 
the northem front, and away from it again, 
through a great flashing gateway in the 
long waU of armies guarding the civilized 
world from the North Sea to the Vosges. 



IN ALSACE 



IN ALSACE 

August IStli, 1915. 
Ti yCY trip to the east began by a dash 
-*^^-"- toward the north, Near Rheims îs a 
lîttle town — hardly more than a village, 
but in English we bave no intermediate 
terms such as "bourg" and "petit bourg*' 
— where one of the new Red Cross sanitary 
motor units was to be seen "in axîtion/' 
The inspection over, we cUmbed to a vine- 
yard above the town and looked down at 
a river valley traversed by a double line 
of trees. The first line marked the canal, 
which is held by the French, who hâve 
gun-boats on it. Behind this ran the high- 
road, with the first-line French trenches, 
and just above, on the opposite slope, were 
the German lînes, The soil being chalky, 
the German positions were clearly marked 

183 



184 HGHTING FRANCE 

by two parallel whîte scorîngs across the 
brown hîll-front; and whîle we watched we 
heard desultory firing, and saw, hère and 
there along the rîdge, the smoke-puff of an 
exploding shell. It was incredibly strange 
to stand there, among the vines humming 
with summer insects, and to look out over 
a peacef ul country heavy wîth the comîng 
vintage, knowîng that the trees at our feet 
hid a Une of gun-boats that were crashing 
death into those two white scorîngs on the 
hîU. 

Bheims îtself brings one nearer to the 
war by its look of deathlike désolation. 
The paralysîs of the bombarded towns îs 
one of the most tragîc results of the in- 
vasion. One's soûl revolts at thîs senseless 
disorganizing of innumerable useful activ- 
îties. Compared with the towns of the 
north, Rheims is relatively unharmed; but 
for that very reason the arrest of life seems 
the more futile and cruel. The Cathedral 
square was deserted, ail the houses around 



m ALSACE 185 

ît were closed. And there, before us, rose 
the Cathedral — a cathedral, rather, for ît 
was not the one we had always known. It 
was, in fact, not like any cathedral on 
earth. When the Gennan bombardment 
began, the west front of Rheims was cov- 
ered wîth scaffolding: the shells set it on 
fire, and the whole church was wrapped in 
fiâmes. Now the scaffolding is gone, and in 
the dull provincial square there stands a 
structure so strange and beautifui that 
one must search the Infemo, or some taie 
of Eastem magie, for words to picture the 
luminous unearthly vision. The lower part 
of the front has been warmed to deep tints 
of umber and bumt siena. This rich bum- 
îshing passes, higher up, through yeUowish^ 
pink and carminé, to a sulphur whitening 
to ivory ; and the recesses of the portais and 
the hoUows behind the statues are lined 
with a black denser and more velvety than 
any effect of shadow to be obtained by 
sculptured relief. The interweaving of col- 



186 FIGHTING FRANCE 

our over the whole blunted bruised surface 
recalls the metallic tints, the peacock-and- 
pigeon iridescences, the incredîble mingling 
of red, blue, umber and yellow of the rocks 
along the Gulf of ^gina. And the wonder 
of the impression îs increased by the sensé 
of its evanescence; the knowledge that this 
is the beauty of disease and death, that 
every one of the transfigured statues must 
crumble under the autumn rains, that 
every one of the pink or golden stones is 
aheady eaten away to the core, that the 
Cathedral of Rheims is glowing and dying 
before us like a sunset. • • 

August 14th. 

A stone and brick château in a flat park 
with a stream running through it. Pampas- 
grass, géraniums, rustic bridges, winding 
paths: how bourgeois and sleepy it would 
ail seem but for the sentinel challenging 
our motor at the gâte ! 

Before the door a coUie dozing in the sun. 



IN ALSACE 187 J 

and a group of staff-officers waiting for ' 

luncheon. Indoors, a room with handsome 
tapestries, some good fumiture and a table 
spread with the usual military maps and 
aeroplane-photographs. At luncheon, the 
General, the chîefs of the staff — a dozen 
în ail — and an officer from the General 
Head-quarters. The usual atmosphère of 
camaraderie^ confidence, good-humour, and 
a kind of cheerful serîousness that I hâve 
corne to regard as characteristic of the men 
immersed in the actual facts of the war. I 
set down this impression as typical of many 
such luncheon hoiurs along the front. • • 

August 15th. 
This momîng we set out for reconquered 
Alsace. For reasons unexplained to the 
civiUan this corner of old-new France has 
hitherto been inaccessible, even to hîghly 
placed French officiais; and there was a 
spécial sensé of excitement in t^aking the 
road that led to it. 



188 FIGHTING FRANCE 

We slipped through a valley or two, 
passed some placid villages with vine- 
covered gabjies, and noticed that most of 
the signs over the shops were Gennan. We 
had erossed the old frontier unawares, and 
were presently in the charmmg town of 
Massevaux. It was the Feast of the As- 
sumption, and mass was just over when we 
reached the square before the chureh. The 
streets were full of holiday people, well- 
dressed, smiling, seemingly uneonscious of 
the war. Down the church-steps, guided by 
fond mammas, came little girls in white 
dresses, with white wreaths in theh- hair, 
and carryîjig, in baskets slung over their 
shoulders, woolly lambs or blue and white 
Virgins. Groups of cavalry offieers stood 
chatting with civilians in their Sunday best, 
and through the Windows of the Golden 
Eagle we saw active préparations for a 
crowded mid-day dinner. It was ail as 
happy and parochial as a "Hansi" picture, 
and the fine old gabled houses and clean 



m ALSACE 189 

cobblestone streets made the traditional 
setting for an Alsacîan holiday. 

At the Golden Eagle we laid în a store of 
provisions, and started out aeross the 
mountains in the direction of Thann, The 
Vosges, at this season, are in their short 
midsummer beauty, rustling with streams, 
dripping with showers, bahny with the 
smell of firs and bracken, and of purple 
thyme on hot banks. We reached the top 
of a ridge, and, hiding the motor behind a 
skirt of trees, went out into the open to 
lunch on a sunny slope. Facing us aeross 
the Valley was a tall conical hill clothed 
with forest. That hill was Hartmannswil- 
lerkopf, the centre of a long contest în 
which the French hâve lately been victori- 
ous; and ail about us stood other crests and 
ridges from which German guns still look 
down on the valley of Thann. 

Tjbann itself is at the valley-head, in a 
neck between hills; a handsome old town, 
with the air of prospérons stability so oddly 



190 ÏIGHTING FRANCE 

characteristic of tliis tonnented région. 
As we drove through the main street the 
pall of war-sadness fell on us again, darken- 
ing the light and cbilling the summer air. 
Thann is raked by the German Unes, and 
its Windows are mostly shuttered and its 
streets deserted. One or two houses in the 
Cathedral square hâve been gutted, but the 
fiomewhat over-pinnaeled and statued cathe- 
dral which is the pride of Thann is ahnost 
îmtouched, and when we entered it vespers 
were being sung, and a few people — mostly 
in blaek — knelt in the naye. 

No greater contrast eould be imagined to 
the happy feast-day scène we had left, a 
few miles ofiF, at Massevaux; but Thann, in 
spite of its empty streets, is not a deserted 
city. A vigorous life beats in it, ready to 
break f orth as soon as the German guns are 
silenced. The French administration, work- 
ing on the best of terms with the popula- 
tion, are keeping up the civil activities of 
the town as the Canons of the Cathedral 



IN ALSACE 191 

are continuing the rites of the Chureh, 
Many inhabitants still remain behind their 
closed shutters and dîve down înto their 
cellars when the shelLs begin to crash; and 
the schools, transferred to a neighbouring 
village, number over two thousand pupils. 
We walked through the town, vîsited a 
vast catacomb of a wine-cellar fitted up 
partly as an ambulance and partly as a 
shelter for the cellarless, and saw the lam- 
entable remains of the industrial quarter 
along the river, whîch has been the spécial 
target of the German guns. Thann has been 
industrially ruined, ail its mills are wrecked; 
but unlike the towns of the north it has 
had the good fortune to préserve its out- 
line, its civic personality, a face that its 
children, when they come back, can rec- 
ognize and take comfort in. 

After our visit to the ruins, a diversion 
was suggested by the amiable adminis- 
trators of Thann who had guîdcd our 
sight-seeing. They were just off for a mili- 



192 ÏIGHTING FRANCE 

tary toumament which the ^th dragoona 

were giving that af temoon in a neighbour- 
îng Valley, and we were învited to go with 
them. 

The scène of the entertainment was a 
meadow enclosed in an amphithéâtre of 
rocks, wîth grassy ledges projecting from 
the cliff lîke tiers of opera-boxes. Thèse 
points of vantage were partly occupied by 
interested spectators and partly by rumi- 
nating cattle; on the lowest slope, the rank 
and f ashion of the neighbourhood was ranged 
on a semi-circle of chairs, and below, in 
the meadow, a lively steeple-chase was 
going on. The riding was extremely pretty, 
as French military riding always is. Few 
of the mounts were thoroughbreds — the 
greater number, in fact, being local cart- 
horses barely broken to the saddle — but 
their agility and dash did the greater crédit 
to their riders. The lancers, in particular» 
executed an effective "musical ride" about 
a central pennon, to the immense satisfac- 



IN ALSACE 193 

tion of the fashîonable public in the fore- 
ground and of the gallery on the rocks. 

The audience was even more interestîng 
than the artists. Chatting with the ladies 
in the front row were the General of di- 
vision and his staff» groups of officers m- 
vited f rom the adjoining Head-quarters, and 
most of the civil and miUtary adminis- 
trators of the restored "Département du 
Haut Rhin." Âll classes had tumed out in 
honour of the fête, and every one was in a 
holiday mood. The people among whom 
we sat were mostly Âlsatian property- 
owners, many of them industrials of Thann. 
Some had been driven from their homes, 
others had seen their mills destroyed, ail 
had been Kving for a year on the perilous 
edge of war, under the menace of reprisais 
too hideous to picture; y et the humour 
prevailing was that of any group of merry- 
makers in a peaceful garrison town. I hâve 
seen nothing, in my wanderings along the 
front, more indicative of the good-breeding 



194 FIGHTING FRANCE 

of the French than the spirit of the ladies 
and gentlemen who sat chatting wîth the 
officers on that grassy slope of Alsace. 

The display of haute école was to be f 61- 
lowed by an exhibition of "transportatîon 
throughout the âges/' headed by a Gaulish 
chariot driven by a trooper with a long 
horsehair moustache and mistletoe wreath, 
and ending in a motor of which the engine 
had been taken out and replaced by a large 
placid white horse. Unluckily a heavy rain 
began while this instructive "number'' 
awaited its tum, and we had to leave be- 
fore Vercingetorix had led his warriors into 
the ring. . . 

Âugust 16th. 
tJp and up into the mountains. We 
started early, taking our way along a nar- 
row interminable valley that sloped up 
gradually toward the east. The road was 
encumbered with a stream of hooded supply 
vans drawn by mules, for we were on the 



IN ALSACE 195 

way to one of the main positions in the 
Vosges, and tliis train of provisions is kept 
up day and night. Finally we reached a 
mountain village under fir--clad slopes, with 
a cold stream rushing down from the Hills. 
On one side of the road was a rustie inn, 
on the other, among the firs, a chalet occu* 
pied by the brigade Head-quarters. Every- 
where about us swarmed the little "chas- 
seurs Alpins'' in blue Tarn o'Shanters and 
leather gaiters. For a year we had been 
reading of thèse heroes of the hills, and hère 
we were among them, looking into their 
thin weather-beaten faces and meeting the 
twinkle of their friendly eyes. Very friendly 
they ail were, and yet, for Frenchmen, in- 
articulate and shy. Ail over the world, no 
doubt, the mountain silences breed this 
kind of reserve, this shrinking from the 
gUbness of the valleys. Yet one had fancied 
that French fluency must soar as high as 
Mont Blanc. 

Mules were brought, and we started on a 



196 flGHTING FRANCE 

long ride up the mountam. The way led 
first over open ledges, with deep vîews into 
valleys blue with distance» then through 
miles of forest, first of beech and fir, and 
finally ail of fir. Above the road the wooded 
slopes rose interminably and hère and 
there we came on tiers of mules, three or 
four hundred together, stabled under the 
trees, in stalls dug out of différent levels of 
the slope. Near by were shelters for the 
men, and perhaps at the next bend a vil- 
lage of "trappers* huts," as the officers caU 
the log-cabins they build in this région. 
Thèse colonies are always bustling with 
life: men busy cleaning their arms, hauling 
material for new cabins, washing or mending 
their clothes, or carrying down the moun- 
tain from the camp-kitchen the two-han- 
dled pails f ull of steaming soupv The kitchen 
is always in the most protected quarter of 
the camp, and generally at some distance 
în the rear. Other soldiers, their job over, 
are lolling about in groups, smoking, gos^ 



IN ALSACE lOT 

sîping or writîng home, the "Soldiers* 
Letter-pad" propped on a patched blue 
knee, a scarred fist laboriously driving the 
foimtain pen'received in hospîtal. Some are 
leaning over the shoulder of a pal who has 
just received a Paris paper, others chuck- 
ling together at the jokes of their own 
French journal — the "Echo du Ravin," 
the "Journal des Poilus,'' or the "Diable 
Bleu": little papers ground out in pur- 
pKsh script on foolscap, and adomed with 
comic-sketches and a wealth of local hu« 
mour. 

Higher up, under a fir-belt, at the edge 
of a meadow, the officer who rode ahead 
signed to us to dismount and scramble af ter 
him. We plunged under the trees, into 
what seemed a thicker thicket, and found 
ît to be a thatch of branches woven to 
screen the muzzles of a battery. The big 
guns were ail about us, crouched in thèse 
sylvan lairs like wild beasts waiting to 
spring; and near each gun hovered its at- 



198 flGHTING FRANCE 

tendant gunner, proud, possessive, impor* 
tant as a bridegroom with his bride. 

We climbed and climbed again, reach» 
ing at lâst a sun-and-wind-bumt common 
which f orms the top of one of the highest 
mountains in the région. The forest was 
left below us and only a belt of dwarf firs 
ran along the edge of the great grassy 
shoulder. We dismounted» the mules were 
tethered among the trees, and our guide 
led us to an insignificant looking stone in 
the grass. On one face of the stone was eut 
the letter F., on the other was a D.; we 
stood on whaty till a year ago» was the 
boundary Une between Bepublic and Em- 
pire. Since then, in certain places, the line 
has been bent back a long way; but where 
we stood we were still under German guns, 
and we had to creep along in the shelter of 
the squat firs to reach the outlook on the 
edge of the plateau. From there, under a 
sky of racing clouds, we saw outstretched 
below us the Promised Land of Alsace.. 



IN ALSACE 198 

On one horizon, far ofiF in the plain, gleamed 
the roofs and spires of Colmar, on the otl^er 
rose the purplish heîghts beyond the Rhine. 
Near by stood a ring of bare hills, those 
closest to us scarred by ridges of upheaved 
earth, as if giant moles had been zîg- 
zaggîng over them; and just under us, in a 
lîttle green valley, lay the roofs of a peace- 
ful village. The earth-ridges and the peace- 
ful village were still German; but the French 
positions went down the mountain, ahnost 
to the valley 's edge; and one dark peak on 
the right was already French. 

We stopped at a gap in the firs and 
walked to the brink of the plateau. Just 
under us lay a rock-rimmed lake. More 
zig-zag earthworks surmounted it on aU 
sides, and on the nearest shore was the 
branched roofing of another great mule- 
shelter. We were looking down at the spot 
to which the night-caravans of the Chas- 
seurs Alpins descend to distribute supplies 
to the fighting Une. 



«00 FIGHTING FRANCE 

"Who goes there? Attention! You're 
in sight of the Unes!'' a voice called out 
from the firs, and our companion signed 
to us to move back. We had been rather 
too conspicuously facîng the German bat- 
teries on the opposite slope, and our prés- 
ence might hâve drawn their fire on an 
artillery observation post installed near by. 
We retreated hurriedly and unpaeked our 
luncheon-basket on the more sheltered side 
of the ridge. As we sat there in the grass, 
swept by a great mountain breeze f ull of 
the scent of thyme and myrtle, while the 
flutter of birds, the hum of insects» the 
still and busy life of the hills went on ail 
about us in the sunshine, the pressure of 
the encircling Une of death grew more in- 
tolerably real. It is not in the mud and 
jokes and every-day activities of the 
trenches that one most feels the damnable 
insanîty of war; it is where it lurks like a 
mythical monster in scènes to which the 
mind has always tumed for rest. 



IN ALSACE 801 

We had not yet made thé whole tour of 
the moimtaîn-top; and after luncheon we 
rode over to a point where a long narrow 
yoke connects ît wîth a spur projectîng 
dîrectiy above the German Unes. We left 
our mules m hiding and walked along the 
yoke, a mere knîfe-edge of rock rimmed wîth 
dwarf végétation. Suddenly we heard an 
explosion behind us: one of the batteries 
we had passed on the way up was giving 
longue. The German Unes roared baek and 
for twenty minutes the exchange of invec- 
tive thundered on. The firing was ahnost 
incessant; it seemed as if a great arch of 
Steel were being bmlt up above us in the 
crystal air. And we could f oUow each curve 
of Sound from its incipience to its final 
crash in the trenches. There were four dis- 
tinct phases: the sharp bang from the can- 
non, the long furious howl overhëad, the 
dispersed and spreading noise of the sheU's 
explosion, and then the roU of its réverbér- 
ation from cliff to cliff. This is what we 



20S FI6HTING FRAJ^CE 

heard as we crouched in the lee of the fîrs: 
what we saw when we looked out between 
them was only an occasional burst ot white 
smoke and red flame f rom one hillside, and 
on the opposite one» a minute later, a 
brown geyser of dust. 

Presently a déluge ot raîn descended on 
us, driving us back to our mules, and down 
the nearest mountain-trail through rivers 
of mud. It rained ail the way: rained in 
such floods and cataracts that the very 
rocks of the mountain seemed to dissolve 
and tum into mud. As we slid down through 
it we met strings of Chasseurs Alpins com- 
ing up, splashed to the waist with wet red 
clay, and leading pack-mules so coated 
with it that they looked like studio models 
from which the sculptor has just pulled oflF 
the dripping sheejt. Lower down we came 
on more "trapper" settlements, so satu^ 
rated and reeking with wet that they gave 
us a glimpse of what the winter months on 
the front must be. No more cheerful polish- 



IN ALSACE 20S 

ing of fire-arms, hauling of f aggots, chatting 
and smoking in sociable groups: everybody 
had crept under the doubtful shelter of 
branches and tarpaulins; the whole anny 
was back in îts burrows. 

August ITtli. 

Sunsbine again for our arrivai at Belfort. 
The invincible city lies unpretentiously be- 
hind its green glacis and escutcheoned gâtes; 
but the guardian Lion under the Citadel — 
well, the Lion is figuratively as well as 
literally à la hauteur. With the sunset flush 
on him, Bs he crouched aloft in his red lair 
below the fort, he might almost hâve 
claimed kin with his mighty prototypes of 
the Assarbanipal frieze. One wondered a 
little, seeing whose work he was; but prob- 
ably it is ea^ier for an artist to symbolize 
an heroic town than the abstract and élu- 
sive divinity who sheds Kght on the world 
from New York harbour. 

From Belfort back into reconquered Al- 



204 ÏIGHTING FRANCE 

sace the road runs thraugh a gentle land- 
scape of fields and orchards. We were 
bound for Dannemarie, one of the towns of 
the plain, and a centre of the new adminis- 
tration. It îs the usual "gros bourg'* of 
Alsace, wîth comfortable old houses in 
espaliered gardens: dull, well-to-do, con- 
tented; not in the least the kind of setting 
demanded by the patriotîsm which has to 
be fed on pictures of Uttle gîris singmg the 
Marseillaise in Alsatian head-dresses and 
old men wîth operatic waistcoats tottering 
forward to kiss the flag. What we saw at 
Dannemarie was less conspicuous to the 
eye but much more nourishing to the imag- 
ination. The militaiy and civil adminis- 
trators had the kindness and patience to 
explain their work and show us something 
of its results; and the visit left one with the 
impression of a slow and quiet process of 
adaptation wisely planned and fruîtfuUy 
carried out. We did, in fact, hear the 
school-girls of Dannemarie sing the Mar- 



m ALSACE £05 

seîUaise — and the boys too — but, what 
was far more interestîng, we saw them 
studying under tlie direction of tlie teachers 
who had always had them in charge, and 
found tbat everywhere it had been the 
aim of the French officiais to let the routine 
of the village policy go on undisturbed. 
The Gennan signs remain over the shop- 
fronts except where the shop-keepers hâve 
chosen to paint them out; as is happening 
more and more frequently. When a func- 
tionary has to be replaced he is chosen 
from the same town or the same district, 
and even the personnel of the civil and 
military administration is mainly composed 
of officers and civilians of Alsatian stock. 
The heads of both thèse departments, who 
accompanied us on our rou^ds, could talk 
to the children and old people in German 
as well as in their local dialect; and, as 
far as a passing observer could discem, it 
seemed as though everything had been done 
to reduce to a minimum the sensé of 



S06 FIGHTIN6 FRANCE 

strangeness and friction which is inévi- 
table in tlie transition from one rule to an- 
other. The interesting point was tliat this 
exercise of tact and tolérance seemed to 
proceed not from any pressure of expediency 
but from a sympathetic understanding of 
thé point of view of this people of the 
border. I heard in Dannemarie not a sylla- 
ble of lyrical patriotism or post-card senti- 
mentality, but only a kindly and impartial 
estimate of f acts as they were and must be 
dealt with. 

August 18th. 
Today again we started early for the 
mountains. Our road ran more to the west- 
ward, through the heart of the Vosges, and 
up to a f old of the hills near the borders of 
Lorraine. We stopped at a Head-quarters 
where a young officer of dragoons was to 
join us, and leamed from him that we were 
to be allowed to visit some of the first-line 
trenches which we had looked out on from 



IN ALSACE 207 

a high-perched observation post on our 
former vîsît to the Vosges. Violent fighting 
was going on in that partieular région, and 
af ter a climb of an hour or two we had to 
leave the motor at a sheltered angle of the 
Toad and strike aeross the hills on foot. 
Our path lay through the f orest, and every 
now and then we caught a glimpse of the 
high-road running below us in f ull view of 
the Gennan batteries. Presently we reaehed 
a point where the road was screened by a 
thick growth of trees behind which an ob- 
servation post had been set up. We scram- 
bled down and looked through the peep- 
hole. Just below us lay a valley with a 
village in its centre, and to the left and 
right of the village were two hills, the one 
scored with French, the other with German 
trenches. The village, at first sight, looked 
as normal as those through which we had 
been passîng; but a doser inspection showed 
that its steeple was shattered and that 
some of its houses were unroofed. Part of 



208 FI6HTING FRANCE 

ît was hdd by German, paxt by French 
troops. The cemetery adjoining the church» 
and a quarry just under it, belonged to 
the Germans; but a Une of French trenches 
ran from the f arther side of the church up 
to the French batteries on the right hand 
hill. Parallel with thîs Une, but starting 
from the other side of the village, was a 
hollow lane leading up to a single tree. 
This lane was a German trench, protected 
by the guns of the left hand hill; and be- 
tween the two lay perhaps fifty yards of 
ground. Ail this was close under us; and 
doser still was a slope of open ground 
leading up to the village and traversed by 
a rough cart-track. Along this track in the 
hot sunshine Uttle French soldiers, the size 
of tin toys, were scrambUng up with bags 
and loads of faggots, their ant-like activity 
as orderly and untroubled as if the two 
armies had not lain trench to trench a few 
yards away. It was one of those strange 
and contradictory scènes of war that bring 



m ALSACE 209 

home to the bewildered looker<on the utter 
împossîbility of picturîng how the thing 
really kappens. 

Whîle we stood watchîng we heard the 
sudden scream of a battery close above us. 
The crest of the hîll we were elimbîng was 
aUve with "Seventy-fives," and the pîere- 
îng noise seemed to burst out at our very 
backs. It was the most terrible war-shriek 
I had heard: a kînd of wolfish baying that 
called up an image of ail the dogs of war 
simultaneously tugging at their leashes. 
There is a dreadful majesty in the sound of 
â distant cannonade; but thèse yelps and 
hisses roused only thoughts of horror. And 
there, on the opposite slope, the black and 
brown geysers were beginning to spout up 
from the German trenches; and from the 
batteries above them came the puff and 
roar of retaliation. Below us, along the cart- 
track, the little French soldiers continued 
to scramble up peacefully to the dilapi- 
dated village; and presently a group of ofB- 



210 FIGHTING FRANCE 

cers of dragoons, emerging from tlie wood, 
came down to welcome us to theîr Head- 
quarters. 

We continued to climb through the for- 
est, tlie cannonade still whîstling overhead, 
till we leached the most elaborate trapper 
colony we had yet seen. Half underground, 
walled with logs, and deeply roof ed by sods 
tufted with fems and moss, the cabîns 
were scattered under the trees and con- 
nected with each other by paths bordered 
with whîte stones. Before the ColoneFs 
cabîn the soldiers had made a banked-up 
flower-bed sown with annuals; and farther 
up the slope stood a log chapel, a mère 
gable with a wooden altar under it, ail 
tapestried wîth îvy and holly. Near by was 
the chaplain's subterranean dwelling. It 
was reached by a deep cutting wîth îvy- 
covered sides, and ivy and fir-boughs 
masked the front. Thîs sylvan retreat had 
just been completed, and the oflScers, the 
chaplaîn, and the soldiers loitering near by. 



m ALSACE 211 

were ail equally eager to hâve it seen and 
hear it praised. 

The commanding offieer, having done the 
honours of the camp, led us about a quarter 
of a mile down the hillside to an open 
cutting which marked the beginning of the 
trenches. From the cutting we passed into 
a long tortuous burrow walled and roofed 
with carefully fitted logs. The earth floor 
was covered by a sort of wooden lattice. 
The only light entering this tunnel was a 
f aint ray from an occasional narrow sUt 
screened by branches; and beside each of 
thèse peep-holes hung a shield-shaped métal 
shutter to be pushed over it in case of 
emergency. 

The passage wound down the hill, almost 
doubling on itself , in order to give a view 
of ail the surrounding Unes. Presently the 
roof became much higher, and we saw on 
one side a curtained niche about five feet 
above the floor. One of the ofBcers pulled 
the curtain back, and there, on a narrow 



«12 WGHTING FRANCE 

shelf, a gun between hîs knees, sat a 
dragoon, hîs eyes on a peep-hole. The cur- 
tain was hastily drawn again behind his 
motionless figure, lest the faint light at hîs 
baek should betray hîm. We passed by 
several of thèse hehneted watchers, and 
now and then we came to a deeper reeess 
în whîch a mîtraîlleuse squatted, îts black 
nose thrust through a net of branches. 
Sometimes the roof of the tunnel was so 
low that we had to beûd nearly double; and 
at intervais we came to heavy doors, made 
of logs and sheeted with îron, which shut 
off one section f rom another. It is hard to 
guess the distance one covers in creeping 
through an uniit passage with différent 
levels and countless tumings; but we must 
hâve descended the hîllside for at least a 
mile bef ore we came out into a half-ruined 
farmhouse. This building, which had kept 
nothing but its outer walls and one or two 
partitions between the rooms, had been 
transformed into an observation post. In 



IN ALSACE 213 

each of its corners a ladder led up to a 
lîttle shelf on the level of what was once 
the second story, and on the shelf sat a 
dragoon at hîs peep-hole. Below, in the 
dilapîdated rooms, the usual Uf e of a camp 
was going on. Some of the soldiers were 
playing cards at a kitchen table, others 
mendîng theîr clothes, or wrîtîng letters 
or chuckling together (not too loud) over 
a comic newspaper. It might hâve been 
a scène anywhere along the second-lîne 
trenches but for the lowered voîces, the 
suddenness wîth which I was drawn back 
f rom a slît in the wall through which I had 
incautiously peered, and the présence of 
thèse helmeted watchers overhead. 

We plunged underground again and be- 
gan to descend through another darker and 
narrower tunnel. In the upper one there 
had been one or two roofless stretches 
where one could straighten one's back and 
breathe; but hère we were in pitch black- 
ness, and saved from breaking our necks 



214 ïlGHTING FRANCE 

only by the gleam of the pocket-Iight whicb 
the young lieutenant who led the paxty 
shed on our path. As he whîsked it up and 
down to wam us of sudden steps or sharp 
corners he remarked tliat at night even 
this faint glimmer was forbidden, and that 
ît was a bad job going back and forth from 
the last outpost till one had leamed the 
tumings. 

The last outpost was a half -ruined f arm* 
house like the other. A téléphone con- 
nected it with Head-quarters and more 
dumb dragoons sat motionless on their 
lofty shelves, The house was shut oflf from 
the tunnel by an armoured door, and the 
orders were that in case of attack that door 
should be barred from wîthin and the ac- 
cess to the tunnel defended to the death by 
the men in the outpost. We were on the 
extrême verge of the defences, on a slope 
just above the village over which we had 
heard the artillery roaring a few hoiu*s 
earlier. The spot where we stood was raked 



IN ALSACE 215 

on ail sides by the enemy's lines, and the 
nearest trenches were only a few yards 
away. But of ail tihis notMng was really per- 
ceptible or compréhensible to me. As( far 
as my own observation went, we might hâve 
been a hundred miles f rom the valley we 
had looked down on, where the French sol- 
diers were walking peacef ully up the cart- 
track in the sunshine. I only knew that we 
had come out of a black labyrinth into a 
gutted house among f ruit-trees, where sol- 
diers were loungmg and smoking, and peo- 
pie whispered as they do about a death-bed. 
Over a break in the walls I saw. another 
gutted farmhouse close by in another or- 
chard: it was an enemy outpost, and silent 
watchers in helmets of another shape sat 
there watching on the same high shelves. 
But aU this was infinitely less real and 
terrible than the cannonade above the dis- 
puted village. The artillery had ceased 
and the air was full of summer murmurs. 
Close by on a sheltered ledge I saw a patch 



816 PIGHTING FRANCE 

of vineyard with dewy cobwebs hanging to 
the vines. I could not understand where 
we were» or what it was ail about, or why a 
shell from the enemy outpost did not sud- 
denly annihilate us. And then, little by 
little, there came over me the sensé of tliat 
mute recîprocal watching from trench to 
trench: the interlocked stare of innumer- 
able pairs of eyes» stretching on, mile after 
mile, along the whole sleepless Une from 
Dunkerque to Belf ort. 

My last vision of the French front which 
I had travelled from end to end was this 
picture of a shelled house where a few men, 
who sat smoking and playmg cards în the 
sunshine, had orders to hold out to the 
death rather than let theîr fraction of that 
front be broken. 



THE TONE OF FBANCB 



THE TONE OP FRANCE 

]^TOBODY now asks the question that 
-*^ ^ so often, at the begînning of the war, 
came to me f rom tlie other sîde of tlie 
world: ^^What is France liJce?^* Every 
one knows what France has proved to be 
lîke: from beîng a diffîcult problem she 
has long since become a lumînous instance. 
Nevertheless, to tbose on whom that 
illumination has shone only from far off, 
there may still be something to leam about 
its component éléments; for it has come to 
consîst of many separate rays, and the 
weary strain of the last y car has been the 
spectroscope to décompose them. From 
the very beginnîng, when one felt the ef- 
f ulgence as the mère pale brightness before 
dawn, the attempt to define it was irresîst- 
ible. "There is a tone — '^ the tingling sensé 
of it was in the air from the first days, the 

219 



220 FIGHTIN6 FRANCE 

first hours — ^^but what does ît consist in ? 
And just how is one aware of ît?" In those 
days the answer was comparatively easy. 
The tone of France after the déclaration of 
war was the white glow of dedication: a 
great nation's collective impulse (since there 
is no English équivalent for that winged 
Word, élan) to resist destruction. But at 
that time no one knew what the résistance 
was to cost, how long it would hâve to last, 
what sacrifices, material and moral, it would 
necessîtate. And for the moment baser sen- 
timents were silenced: greed, self-interest, 
pusillanimity seemed to hâve been purged 
from the race. The great sitting of the 
Chamber, that almost religions célébration 
of défensive union, really expressed the 
opinion of the whole people. It is fairly 
easy to soar to the empyrean when one is 
carried on the wings of such an impulse, 
and when one does not know how long 
one is to be kept suspended at the breath- 
ing-limit. 



THE TONE OF FRANCE 2£1 

But there îs a term to the flight of tlie 
most soaring élan. It is likely, af ter a while, 
to corne back broken-wînged and resîgn 
itself to bam-yard bounds. National judg- 
ments cannot remain for long above indi- 
vidual feelings; and y ou cannot get a na- 
tional "tone" out of anything less than a 
whole nation. The really interesting thing, 
therefore, was to see, as the war went on, 
and grew into a calamity unheard of in 
human annals, how the French spirit would 
meet it, and what virtues extract from it. 

The war has been a calamity unheard of ; 
but France has never been afraid of the 
unheard of . No race has ever yet so auda- 
ciously dispensed with old précédents; as 
none has ever so revered their reUcs. It is 
a great strength to be able to walk without 
the support of analogies; and France has 
always shown that strength in times of 
crisis. The absorbing question, as the war 
went on, was to discover how far down 
into the people this intellectual audacity 



««« FIGHTING FRANCE 

penetrated, how instinctive it had become, 
and how it would endure the strain of pro- 
longed inaction. 

There was never much doubt about tbe 
army. When a warlike race bas an invader 
on its soil, the men holding back the in- 
vader can never be said to be inactive. 
But behind the army were the waiting mil* 
lions to whom that long motionless line 
in the trenches might gradually hâve be« 
come a mère condition of thought, an ac- 
eepted limitation to ail sorts of activities 
and pleasures. The danger was that such a 
war — static, dogged, uneventful — might 
gradually cramp instead of enlarging the 
mood of the lookers-on. Conscription, of 
course, was there to minîmize this danger. 
Every one was sharing alike in the glory 
and the woe. But the glory was not of a 
kind to penetrate or dazzle. It requires 
more imagination to see the halo aroimd 
tenacîty than aroimd dash; and the French 
stîll cling to the view that they are, so to 



THE TONE OF FRANCE 228 

speaky the patentées and proprietors of 
dash, and much less at home wîth his duU 
drudge of a partner. So there was reason 
to fear, in tlie loi^ run, a graduai but irré- 
sistible disintegration, not of public opin- 
ion, but of something subtler and more 
fundamental: public sentiment. It was pos- 
sible that civilian France, while collectively 
seeming to remain at the same lieiglit, might 
individuafly deteriorate and diminish in its 
attitude toward the war. . 

The French would not be human, and 
theréfore would not be interesting, if one 
had not perceived in them occasional symp- 
toms of such a péril. There has not been 
a Frenchman or a Frenchwoman - save a 
few harmless and perhaps nervous the- 
orizers — who has wavered about the miK- 
tary policy of the country; but there hâve 
naturally been some who hâve f ound it less 
easy than they could hâve foreseen to Uve 
up to the sacrifices it has necessitated. Of 
course there hâve been such people : one 



224 FIGHTING FRANCE 

would hâve had to postulate tliem if ïbey 
had not corne within one's expérience. 
There hâve been some to whom it was 
barder thaa they imagined to gîve up a 
certain way of living, or a certain kind of 
breakfast-roll; tbough tbe French, being 
fundamentally temperate, are far less the 
slaves of tbe luxuries they bave invented 
tban are tbe otber races wbo bave adopted 
tbese luxuries. 

Tbere bave been many more wbo found 
tbe sacrifice of personal bappiness — of ail 
tbat made life livable, or one's country 
wortb figbting for — infinitely barder tban 
tbe most apprebensive imagination could 
bave pîctured. Tbere bave been motbers 
and widows for wbom a single grave, or 
tbe appearance of one name on tbe missing 
Ust, bas tumed tbe wbole conflict into an 
îdiot's taie. Tbere bave been many sucb; 
but tbere bave apparently not been enougb 
to deflect by a baîr's breadtb tbe subtle 
current of pubKc sentiment; unless it is 



THE TONE OP FRANCE 225 

truer, as ît is infinitely more înspiring, to 
suppose that, of tHs company of blinded 
baffled sufiFerers, almost ail hâve had tlie 
strengtli to hide their despaîr and to say 
of tlie great national effort which has lost 
most of its meaning to tliem: '^Though ît 
slay me, yet will I trust in it." Tliat is 
probably the finest triumph of the tone of 
France: that its myriad fiery currents flow 
from so many hearts made insensible by 
suffering, that so many dead hands f eed its 
undying lamp. 

This does not in the least imply that 
jesignation is the prevailing note in the 
tone of France. The attitude of the French 
people, after fourteen months of trial, is 
not one of submission to unparalleled ca- 
lamity. It is one of exaltation, energy, 
the hot résolve to dominate the disaster. 
In ail classes the feeling is the same: every 
Word and every act is based on the resolute 
ignoring of any alternative to vîctory. The 
French people no more think of a compro- 



«26 PIGHTING FRANCE 

mise than people would tliink of f acing a 
flood or an earthquake with a white flag. 

Two questions are likely to be put to 
any observer of the struggle who risks 
such assertions* What, one may be asked» 
are tbe proofs of this national tone? And 
what conditions and qualities seem to min- 
ister to it? 

The proofs, now tbat ^^tbe tumult and 
the shouting dies," and dvilian life bas 
dropped back into something like its usual 
routine, are naturally less definable tban 
at the outset. One of the most évident is 
the spirit in which ail kinds of privations 
are accepted. No one who has corne in 
contact with the work-people and small 
shop-keepers of Paris in the last year can 
fail to be struck by the extrême dignity 
and grâce with which doing without things 
is practised. The Frenchwoman leaning in 
the door of her empty boutique still wears 
the smile with which she used to calm the 
impatience of crowding shoppers. The seam^ 



THE TONE OF FBANCE 2*7 

stress livîng on the meagre pay of a charity 
work-room gives her day's sewing as faith- 
fully as îf she were workîng for f uU wages 
in a fashionable atelier^ and never tries, by 
the least hint of private dîfficultîes, to ex- 
tract additîonal help. The habituai cheer- 
fuhiess of the Parîsian workwoman rises, 
în moments of sorrow, to the fîùest fortî- 
tude. In a work-room where many women 
hâve been employed since the beginnmg 
of the war, a young gîrl of sixteen heard 
late one aftemoon that her only brother 
had been killed. She had a moment of des- 
perate dîstress; but there was a bîg famîly 
to be helped by her small eamîngs, and the 
next moming pimctually she was back at 
work. In thîs same work-room the women 
hâve one half-hoUday în the week, without 
réduction of pay; y et if an order has to be 
rushed through for a hospital they give up 
that one aftemoon as gaily as if they were 
doing it for their pleasure. But ïî any one 
who has liyed for the last year among the 



228 FIGHTING FRANCE 

workers and small tradesmen of Paris 
should begin to cite instances of endurance, 
self-denial and secret charity, the list would 
hâve no end. The essential of it ail is the 
spirit in which thèse acts are accomplished. 
The second question: What are the con- 
ditions and quaUties that hâve produced 
such results? is less easy to answer. The 
door is so largely open to conjecture that 
every explanation must dépend largely on 
the answerer's personal bias. But one thing 
is certain. France has not achieved her 
présent tone by the sacrifice of any of her 
national traits, but rather by their extrême 
keyîng up; therefore the surest way of 
finding a due to that tone is to try to single 
out whatever distinctively "French" char- 
acteristics — or those that appear such to 
the envious alien — hâve a direct bearing 
on the présent attitude of France. Which 
(one must ask) of ail their multiple gifts 
most help the French today to be what 
they are in just the way they are? 



THE TONE OF FRANCE «29 

Intelligence ! is the first and instantané- 
ous answer. Many French people seem un- 
aware of tliis, They are sincerely persuaded 
that tlie curbing of their critieal activity 
has been one of the most important and 
useful results of the war. One is told that, 
in a spirit of patriotism, this fault-finding 
people has leamed not to find fault. Noth- 
ing could be more untrue. The French, 
when they hâve a grievance, do not air it 
in the Times: their forum is the café and 
not the newspaper. But in the café they 
are talking as freely as ever, discriminat- 
mg as keenly and judging as passionately. 
The différence is that the very exercise of 
their intelligence on a problem larger and 
more diffîcult than any they hâve hitherto 
f aced has f reed them f rom the dominion of 
most of the préjudices, catch-words and 
conventions that directed opinion before 
the war. Then their intelligence ran in 
fixed channels; now ît has overfiowed its 

banks. 



230 FIGHTING FRANCE 

This release bas produced an immédiate 
readjusting of ail the éléments of national 
life* In great trials a race is tested by its 
values; and tbe war has shown the world 
what are the real values of France. Never 
for an instant has this people, so expert in 
the great art of Uving, imagmed that life 
consisted in being alive. Enamoured of 
pleasure and beauty, dwelling freely and 
frankly in the présent, they bave yet kept 
their sensé of larger meanings, bave under* 
stood life to be made up of many things 
past and to come, of renunciation as well 
as satisfaction, of traditions as well as ex- 
periments, of dying as much as of living. 
Never bave they considered life as a tbing 
to be cherished in îtself , apart from its ré- 
actions and its relations. 

Intelligence first, tben, bas helped France 
to be what she is; and next, perbaps, one 
of its corollaries, expression. The French are 
the first to laugb at themselves for running 
to words: they seem to regard their gift 



THE TONE OF FRANCE 231 

for expression as a weakness, a possible 
déterrent to action. Thé last year has not 
çonfirmed that view. It has rather shown 
that éloquence is a supplementary weapon. 
By "éloquence" I naturally do not mean 
public speaking, nor yet the rhetorical 
writing too often associated with the word. 
Rhetoric is the dressing-up of conventional 
sentiment, éloquence the fearless expression 
of real émotion. And this gift of the fear- 
less expression of émotion — fearless, that 
is, of ridicule, or of indifférence in the 
hearer — has been an inestimable strength 
to France. It is a sign of the high average 
of French intelligence that feeling well- 
worded can stir and uplift it; that "words" 
are not half shamefacedly regarded as 
something separate from, and extraneous 
to, émotion, or even as a mère vent for it, 
but as actually animating and forming it. 
Every additional faculty for exteriorizing 
States of feeling, giving them a face and a 
language, is a moral as well as an artistic 



2S2 FIGHTIN6 FRANCE 

asset, and Goethe was never wiser than 
when he wrote: 

*'A god gave me the voioe to speak my pain/* 

It is not too much to say that the French 
are at this moment drawing a part of their 
national strength from their language. The 
pîety wîth which they hâve cherîshed and 
eultivated it has made it a precious instru- 
ment in their hands. It can say so beauti- 
f ully what they feel that they find strength 
and rénovation in using it; and the word 
once uttered is passed on, and carries the 
same help to others. Countless instances of 
such happy expression could be cited by 
any one who has Uved the last year in 
France. On the bodîes of young soldiers 
hâve been f ound letters of f arewell to their 
parents that made one think of some 
heroic EUzabethan verse; and the mothers 
robbed of thèse sons hâve sent them an 
answering cry of courage. 

"Thank you," such a moumer wrote me 



THE TONE OF FRANCE 288 

the other day, "for having understood the 
cruelty of our fate, and having pitied us. 
Thank you also for having exalted the 
pride that is mingled with our unutterable 
sorrow." Simply that, and no more; but 
she might hâve been speaking for ail the 
mothers of France. 

When the éloquent expression of feelrng 
does not issue in action — or at least in a 
state of mind équivalent to action — it 
sinks to the level of rhetoric; but in France 
at this moment expression and conduct 
supplément and reflect each other. And this 
brings me to the other great attribute 
which goes to making up the tone of France: 
the quality of courage. It is not uninten- 
tionally that it comes last on my hst. 
French courage is courage rationalized, 
courage thought out, and found necessary 
to some spécial end; it is, as much as any 
other quality of the French tempérament» 
the resuit of French intelligence. 

No people so sensitive to beauty, so 



t34 FIGHTIN6 FRANCE 

penetrated with a passionate interest in 
lif e, so endowed with the power to express 
and immortalîze that interest, can ever 
reaUy enjoy destruction for its own sake. 
The French hâte "militarism/' It is stu- 
pid, inartistic, unimaginative and enslavîng; 
there could not be four better French rea- 
sons for detesting it. Nor hâve the French 
ever enjoyed the savage forms of sport 
which stimulate the blood of more apa- 
thetic or more brutal races* Neither prîze- 
fighting nor buU-fighting is of the soil in 
France, and Frenchmen do not settle their 
private différences impromptu with theh- 
fists: they do it, logically and with délibéra- 
tion, on the duelling-groimd. But when a 
national danger threatens, they instantly 
become what they proudly and justly call 
themselves — "a warlike nation *' — and ap- 
ply to the business in hand the ardour, 
the imagination, the persévérance that 
hâve made them for centuries the great 
créative force of civilization. Every French 



,y 



THE TONE OF FRANCE 9S5 

soldîer knows why he îs fighting, and why, 
ai this moment, physical courage îs the first 
quality demanded of hîm; every French- 
woman knows why war is beîng waged, 
and why her moral courage is needed to 
supplément the soldier's contempt of death. 
The women of France are supplying 
this moral courage in act as weU as in word. 
Frenchwomen, as a rule, are perhaps less 
instinctively "courageous/* in the elemen- 
tary sensé, than their Anglo-Saxon sisters. 
They are afraid of more things, and are 
less ashamed of showing their fear. The 
French mother coddles her children, the 
boys as well as the girls: when they tumble 
and bark their knees they are expected to 
cry, and not taught to control themselves 
as English and American children are. I 
hâve seen big French boys bawling over a 
eut or a bruise that an Anglo-Saxon girl 
of the same âge would hâve f elt compelled 
to bear without a tear. Frenchwomen are 
timid for themselves as well as for their 



HM FI6HTIN6 FRANCE 

children. They are afraid of the iiiiex« 
pected» the unknown» the experimentaL It 
is not part of the Frenchwoman's traînmg 
to prétend to hâve physical courage. She 
has not the advantage of our discipline in 
the hypocrisies of "good form** when she 
is called on to be brave, she must draw 
her courage from her brains. She must fîrst 
be cônvinced of the necessity of heroism; 
after that she is fit to go bridle to bridle 
with Jeanne d'Arc. 

The same display of reasdned courage is 
visible in the hasty adaptation of the 
Frenchwoman to ail kinds of uncongenial 
jobs. Almost every kind of service she has 
been called to render since the war be- 
gan has been fundamentally uncongenial. 
A French doctor once remarked to me 
that Frenchwomen never make really good 
sick-nurses except when they are nursing 
theÎT own people. They are too personal, 
too emotional, and too much interested 
In more interesting things, to take to the 



THE TONE OF FEANCE »7 

fussy détails of good nursing, except when 
ît can help some one they care for. Even 
then, as a rule, they are not systematîc or 
tîdy; but they make up for thèse deficîen- 
cies by inexhaustîble wîUingness and sym- 
pathy. And it has been easy for them to 
become good war-nurses, because every 
Frenchwoman who nurses a French soldîer 
feels that she is caring for her kin. The 
French war-nurse sometimes mislays an in- 
strument or forgets to steriUze a dressing; 
but she ahnost always finds the ccnsoUng 
Word to say and the right tone to take 
with her wounded soldiers. That profound 
solidarity whîch îs one of the results of 
conscription flowers, in war-time, in an 
exquisite and impartial dévotion. 

This, then, is what "France is like." 
The whole civiKan part of the nation 
seems merged in one symboUc figure, carry- 
ing help and hope to the fighters or pas- 
sionately bent above the wounded. The dé- 
votion, the self -déniai, seem instinctive; 



238 HGHTING FRANCE 

but they are really based on a reasona? 
knowledge of the situation and on an un- 
flinching estimate of values. Ail France 
knows today that real "life** consists in 
the things that make it wortli living, and 
that thèse things, for France, dépend on 
the free expression of her national genius. 
If France perishes as an intellectual light 
and as a moral force every Frenchman 
perishes with her; and the only death that 
Frenchmen f ear is not death in the trenches 
but death by the extinction of their national 
idéal. It is against this death that the whole 
nation is fighting; and it is the reasoned 
récognition of their perU which, at this 
moment, is making the most intelligent 
pécule in the world the most sublime. 

THE END 



•" 



'Servon 



leims yilie-s.tDurbe 

Bau5ejour 



Varenne^ 

BoureuiUèi 
'LeFourdei^i 



--^ 



Malmjr 



Val 



my 






ÎU 



Menehouid 



Ihdions 



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AR&C 



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Yanault 



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Nettanamrt»,